Bowdoin has become the first college in Maine to ban travel to states with coronavirus-related emergencies, forcing its athletic teams to scramble to fill out schedules.

The Bowdoin baseball and softball teams both had trips this week to Florida canceled, while the men’s and women’s tennis teams have had to forgo matches scheduled in California.

Other colleges and universities in Maine are continuing to allow domestic travel for school-related activities. March is a month when many New England collegiate sports teams play games in warm-weather locales during spring break.

Jim Caton, Bowdoin’s assistant athletic director for communications, said the decision to ban travel was made on Friday and “was a joint decision by everyone on campus.”

The school posted an updated notice of its travel ban on its web site Sunday, stating, “Until further notice, the College is not permitting Bowdoin-sponsored travel (defined as those trips funded directly by the College or for which the traveler receives reimbursement from Bowdoin) by students, faculty, or staff to states in the US that have declared COVID-19-related emergencies (currently California, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New York, Utah, and Washington), Washington, D.C., or to countries with a CDC travel advisory Warning Level 3 (currently China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea).”

The notice went on to say the ban “includes athletic team and other planned travel to these locations.”

Four other New England Small College Athletic Conference schools, according to Caton, have also banned travel to states that have declared coronavirus-related emergencies: Amherst and Williams colleges in Massachusetts, and Trinity and Wesleyan in Connecticut.

Caton said he did not anticipate any issues with this weekend’s home athletic events. Bowdoin is the host of the NCAA’s Division III women’s basketball sectional round on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, five members of Bowdoin’s women’s track team will compete in the NCAA Division III championships this weekend in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. That state has not declared a state of emergency regarding coronavirus.

Bowdoin’s baseball team had eight games canceled that were scheduled in Florida this week. The softball team had 16 games in Florida – to be played between March 11-20 – called off. In addition, the men’s and women’s tennis teams each had six matched in California canceled.

Bowdoin has been trying to reschedule at least some of those games. The baseball and softball teams were both playing on Monday, softball a doubleheader at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, and baseball at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

The softball team has already added two doubleheaders to its schedule, at Williams on Wednesday and at Wesleyan on Thursday. Baseball has added a game against St. Michael’s in Northboro, Massachusetts, on Tuesday.

Tyson McHatten, a senior associate director of athletics at the University of Maine, said the state’s only Division I athletic program has no travel restrictions right now. The baseball team has eight games scheduled in a road trip that goes to Baltimore and Florida beginning Saturday while the softball team will play six games in North Carolina next week. Maine’s women’s basketball team will play at Stony Brook outside New York City on Friday in the America East championship game.

The University of Southern Maine, which is also part of the University of Maine System, similarly does not yet have travel restrictions. The softball team is scheduled to be in Clermont and Leesburg, Florida, for 12 games from March 14-21, while the nationally ranked baseball team will be playing games in Lexington, South Carolina, March 14-20.

But USM’s baseball schedule has been affected. On Friday, Trinity College of Hartford, Connecticut, canceled all of its college-sponsored trips. Trinity, like Bowdoin, is a NESCAC school. USM had been scheduled to play Trinity twice in South Carolina. After Trinity announced its travel ban, the teams quickly rescheduled one game and played Sunday in Hartford.

“They were home and it was 60 degrees there so that was a pretty good thing,” said USM baseball coach Ed Flaherty.

Flaherty said he’s not overly concerned, at least right now, about the health issues of traveling to South Carolina. As of Monday, South Carolina had not declared a state of emergency regarding coronavirus.

“What I get worried about, with all these other schools canceling, we get there and there’s no one to play,” Flaherty said.

Five USM athletes are scheduled to compete in NCAA Division III national championships this weekend. Track and field athletes Mykayla Hoggard (long jump), Adela Kalilwa (triple jump) and Carson Gross (men’s high jump) have qualified to compete in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wrestlers Peter Del Gallo and Brad Beaulieu qualified to compete in their sport’s national championship in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The baseball and softball teams from St. Joseph’s College have already returned to campus from their Florida trips and the men’s lacrosse team played two games in Whittier, California. The baseball team is scheduled to return to Florida for a two-day, four-game stint March 15-16.

St. Joe’s has not issued any travel restrictions. It has required that any on-campus student, staff or faculty who have traveled to countries where the COVID-19 outbreak has been severe (Italy, China, Iran, South Korea and Japan as of Friday) report their travel to the school and then self-isolate off campus for 14 days.

Will Sanborn, St. Joe’s baseball coach and an associate athletic director, said he anticipates returning to Florida this weekend.

“Our administration is monitoring what’s going on and we feel very comfortable going on and encouraging people to do what they should do: wash their hands, get rest, eat properly,” Sanborn said.

Both Flaherty and Sanborn noted that if the situation worsens and travel does become restricted to New England area day trips, at least the mild weather is in their favor. Both teams have already played games in New England.

“I’m not comparing the situations but last year we were using jackhammers to chip away five, six inches of ice off our field. You do what you have to do, day-to-day, to get your season in,” Sanborn said.

At the University of New England, all university-sponsored international travel was suspended on Friday. UNE does not sponsor baseball. Its softball team is scheduled to play 12 games in Clermont, Florida, from March 14-20.


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