Last week, the University of Chicago Department of Athletics released official news that varsity fall and winter teams would not partake in competition during the autumn quarter of 2020. This news comes in the wake of the University Athletic Association (UAA) canceling official competition and the University releasing earlier interest in proceeding in non-conference competition for its varsity programs. While all in-season and pre-season competition is terminated for both fall and winter teams, the Athletic Department intends to continue hosting practices and conditioning for its varsity programs.
In a letter released by Interim Director of Athletics and Recreation Rosalie Resch, details regarding the decision were revealed. The letter notes ongoing public health and epidemiological guidance from the CDC, Illinois, and Chicago public health agencies, NCAA, and specialists from UChicago Medicine as reasons for terminating official competition. Furthermore, there were major concerns due to the limited availability of regional non-conference competition and the city of Chicago’s emergency travel order, detailing a mandatory 14-day quarantine of people traveling to and from high-risk states.
The UChicago's Athletics and Recreation Working Group, co-chaired by Dean of Students in the University Michele Rasmussen and Interim Athletics and Recreation Director Rosy Resch, created the official verdict, deciding to end pursuits to continue non-conference competition in the upcoming quarter. Ultimately, this decision was made with the safety and health of the University’s athletic and overall community in mind.
The University is working to proceed by establishing a delayed autumn pre-season practice session as well as in-season practices throughout the autumn quarter for varsity fall and winter teams. The Athletics Department plans to bring varsity fall athletes back on September 2nd to coordinate official practices and training with coaches in safe conditions. Safety measures include organizing virtual meetings and smaller group practice sessions. Additionally, the Department hopes that winter athletics can proceed with pre-season practices starting during the autumn quarter.
Looking to the future, the University is preparing for several scenarios. The Working Group is preparing to coordinate a response to 2021 competition, considering practices for varsity winter and spring teams. Additionally, the Working Group is working to evaluate the logistics and ability for the University to provide its usual intramural and recreational sports during the 2020–21 academic year.
Reflecting on the decision, Resch notes in her letter to varsity athletes, “I know this is not the news you were hoping to hear. We will miss watching you compete this fall, but your health and safety is our primary concern.”