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ODAC announces plan for return of sports in spring semester

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 5:17 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Old Dominion Athletic Conference has a plan for the return of sports.

Tuesday afternoon, the NCAA Division III conference announced details for winter, fall, and spring sports to be played during the spring semester of 2021. College basketball season is set to begin January 23 with teams playing a 12-game schedule. Football is scheduled to start February 26 and the plan is for teams to play a five-game season. Spring sports will play a traditional conference schedule.

For more information on specific sports, click here.

The ODAC released the following statement about its plan for the return of sports:

Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) leadership has continued its thorough review of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on athletic opportunities throughout the league’s membership. The ODAC Presidents' Council, in consultation with the ODAC Board of Directors, has endorsed a plan for a return to collegiate competition during the 2021 spring semester.

“Every institution in the ODAC has been focused on ensuring the best possible student experience throughout the pandemic and the role athletics plays in that is an important one,” commented Dr. David Bushman, President of Bridgewater College and currently serving as chair of the ODAC Presidents Council. “As we have all learned over the past nine months, prudent planning and the capacity to respond quickly to changing circumstances go hand in hand. We believe putting detailed plans in place now for a return to competition beginning in January is the best way to honor the commitment we make to all of our students.”

The first priority of the conference leadership is ensuring the well-being of all individuals involved in collegiate competition and its member campuses. As such, the ODAC Presidents' Council committed that the conference will follow all established NCAA testing recommendations. A Standard Operating Procedures for Competition has been completed. The document was developed by the ODAC Board of Directors and a number of member working groups including athletic training and sports medicine personnel.

The ODAC considered several different scheduling models as part of its return to competition plan. The resulting framework provides regular season and conference championship structures for fall and winter sports in addition to the unaltered previously established spring sport schedules and championships. Basketball, indoor track & field, and swimming will maintain their opportunities to qualify for NCAA championship participation. Second semester competition is scheduled to begin on January 23 with men’s and women’s basketball. All other sports will begin later as the semester progresses.

“The conference has worked diligently to create a plan for all our student-athletes to continue their collegiate athletic experience in the spring,” explained ODAC Commissioner Brad Bankston. “I am pleased with the progress we have made and the plans we have created. While no one can control the pandemic, we can continue to follow local guidance, implement well-documented best practices regarding health and safety, and prepare for competition following the recommendations presented by the NCAA. I thank all the student-athletes, parents, coaches and fans who have been patient with us during this difficult time. We’re all living in an environment where we must continue to closely monitor recommendations from health professionals and pivot when and where needed.”

Conference leadership will meet on a regular basis between now and the end of 2020 and continue with its planning for competition in 2021. Leadership will track the progress of COVID-19 and subsequent health and safety recommendations provided by local, state and national public health authorities.

Stay tuned to the ODAC website as well as each member school’s website for the posting of all schedules.

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