Windsor

University, college fall sports cancelled but St. Clair and UWindsor to honour scholarships

While there are tentative plans to resume some professional sports as soon as next month, fields, rinks and courts at the University of Windsor and St. Clair College will remain empty through the fall semester due to safety concerns around COVID-19. 

Athletes will continue training and teams will still roster

University of Windsor Lancers will not be able to play sports until at least January 2021. College and university sports officials have cancelled the fall season due to COVID-19. (Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press)

While there are tentative plans to resume some professional sports as soon as next month, fields, rinks and courts at the University of Windsor and St. Clair College will remain empty through the fall semester due to safety concerns around COVID-19. 

Both governing bodies for Ontario post secondary sports — the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) — made the announcement Monday, cancelling all competitions through December 31, 2020. 

Mike Havey is the athletics director at the University of Windsor, and he sits on the OUA board. He said the decision was made by the OUA board after extensive deliberations, but the athletes were not included in the talks.

"It's just too big a risk to put people into close physical contact," he said. "We just don't have the means to put in place a system of testing players everyday."

The move affects single semester sports such as football, golf, cross country running, but it also means the startup for two semester sports like hockey, basketball and volleyball will also be affected.

Havey said they don't know when facilities will be open for training the way teams knew it before, and it will be difficult to train in smaller groups. He said each sport will have its own rules on how to return to training while maintianing physical distancing. 

"Physical distancing in the absence of a vaccine is the only tool we have in the toolbox to prevent the spread of this disease," he said. "That's just a long way away from putting people on the field and getting back to games."

Havey said the University of Windsor will honour scholarships available to players who are eligible and sports and training staff remain in their jobs running online training where possible. 

"It's a loss," said Havey. 

St. Clair College will continue to roster teams and provide scholarships to athletes. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

Meanwhile, the OCAA made the same decision to limit exposure to COVID-19.

The decision impacts baseball, softball, rugby, rugby 7's , soccer. golf and cross-country running at St. Clair College.

"The health and safety of everyone involved in St. Clair's athletics is paramount," said Ron Seguin, vice president international relations, campus development and student services, in a statement. 

St. Clair will also continue to roster teams and honour its scholarship obligations, Seguin said. 

"It's the right thing to do. We will put you on a roster and monitor your academic performance to make sure you are meeting the established college criteria."

The OCAA is reviewing the situation on an ongoing basis with the goal of resuming sports in January 2021. St. Clair is working with member schools on a plan to offer the cancelled 2020 sports in the 2021 spring season.

The earliest any Windsor Lancer or St. Clair Saint will be able to compete, in any sport, will be next January.

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