WATERVILLE — The North Atlantic Conference announced Monday that it will not hold a basketball season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We appreciate the hard work done by athletics administrators, athletic trainers and conference office staff to develop schedule options and safety protocols with respect to contesting a conference basketball season,” said Ray Rice, who chairs the NAC Presidents’ Council. “The Council ultimately determined the safest course of action is to allow each school to provide competitive opportunities for student-athletes in a way that works best for each campus.”

The 13-member NAC, which includes five Maine colleges (Thomas, Maine Maritime, Husson, UMaine-Presque Isle and UMaine-Farmington), announced in November that it was delaying a decision on winter sports. The NAC offers basketball and swimming and diving in the winter.

The NAC also announced Monday that there will be no swimming and diving season until next winter. However, the NAC plans to hold a virtual swimming and diving meet on March 13-14.

The basketball season was tentatively scheduled to begin Jan. 29. However, NAC schools will be allowed to schedule non-conference competition.

Thomas athletic director Chris Parsons announced he hopes to schedule outside competition for the Terriers basketball teams with opponents who also adhere to strict Covid-19 testing and safety protocols.

“As we proved in the fall, it is possible to provide the best opportunities to our student-athletes while maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our community, and I am confident that we will continue those efforts through the remainder of this academic year,” Parsons said.

Members of the UMF men’s basketball team were already back on campus Monday, quarantining in preparation for practices.

“Everyone is just coming back to campus and quarantining for a few days,” said UMF junior Jack Kane, one of the team’s three captains, before the announcement Monday afternoon. “Hopefully, when we get our test results back, hopefully by Thursday we can start practices again.”

In an email Monday night, UMF athletic director Julie Davis said the school’s winter sports season will move forward, with games planned against in-state competition.

“UMF plans to move forward with cautious optimism and great care to work toward scheduling and competing in some in-state men’s and women’s basketball games starting in February,” Davis said in a statement. “Additionally, we are continuing with our plans for snowsports (Alpine, Nordic and freeride/snowboard) and exploring some creative indoor track and field options.”

According to a statement on its website, UMPI will continue with its plans to bring teams back to campus Jan. 16 for practices and prepare for a non-conference schedule.

The NAC still hopes to play traditional fall sports, including soccer, field hockey, volleyball, cross country, tennis, and golf, on a smaller scale in the spring, along with a spring sports schedule. The presidents will meet in February to determine if a change of course in spring is necessary.

 

Staff writer David Dyer contributed to this report.

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