The wait for the return of college sports in Siloam Springs, Arkansas will last a little longer. In an email sent to students on August 27, Chip Pollard, president of John Brown University, and JBU athletic director Robyn Daugherty announced that JBU “has decided to postpone all intercollegiate athletic competition until at least January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The statement continues, saying, “We recognize that this decision is disappointing for our student-athletes (and their fans), but we believe that it is in their best interest and the best interest of maintaining on-campus instruction this fall. Coaches will be working closely with their student-athletes to prepare for successful seasons after January 1. The Sooner Athletic Conference is working on spring schedules, and we will publish them as soon as they are available.”
This decision comes only weeks after the NAIA determined that they would postpone all fall national championships to the spring. The Sooner Athletic Conference had also determined that fall sports would not be allowed to start until October 15 at the earliest. Daugherty had previously released a statement on August 5, which detailed the school’s plans for easing back into fall practice in preparation for returning to play.
This makes JBU the newest addition to the long list of colleges and conferences that have decided to postpone fall sports to the spring. On August 11, the Pac-12 announced that they would postpone all sports competitions to 2021, and the Big Ten made a statement that same day, announcing that they would be postponing all fall sports and championships. NCAA Division I conferences that have decided not to play this fall include the American Athletic Conference (excluding football), Conference USA (excluding football), the Mid-American Conference and the Mountain West Conference.
Reaction to JBU’s decision to postpone sports has been positive.
“This postponement of our season wasn’t anything too unexpected like a lot of things going on right now, but I believe that this was the right step to take,” Luke Gumm, sophomore soccer player, said. “Of course for our safety and the safety of our opponent’s, it would be wise to not play and get physical with a virus that has such a strong reach and even stronger effect on people’s daily lives.”
“I think it’s wise and the best move to keep everyone safe,” Bella Bennett, senior political science major, said.
“I think the biggest priority is student safety,” Lea Dawn Hart, senior psychology major said, “so I am for it.”
Teams will continue to practice and condition in small groups under the supervision of their coaches until September 21, when the university will evaluate whether practices can be expanded to larger groups for the remainder of the fall semester. Despite the postponement, JBU athletic teams will remain eligible for post-season play in the spring.
Photo: Brooke Baldwin, The Threefold Advocate