• The Southwestern

SWOSU suspends Fall 2020 athletic competition

The Great American Conference (GAC) announced Friday that member schools will suspend all NCAA Division II athletic competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar year.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University, along with 11 other members of the conference from Oklahoma and Arkansas, are part of the agreement. The league will suspend all fall and winter sports – basketball, cross country, football, soccer and volleyball – and the two-semester sports of golf and tennis through December 31.

“We know that this is a difficult day for our student-athletes, and our hearts go out to them,” SWOSU President Randy Beutler said. “We wanted to play, we wanted to coach and we will still hope for the opportunity to do both when pandemic conditions improve. It has become apparent by the conference as a whole that competing this fall has too many undue obstacles imposed by the NCAA.”

The Great American Conference becomes the 21st NCAA Division II league to announce plans to suspend competition for the 2020 fall semester.

During the past five months, Beutler said SWOSU staff, faculty and administration have been involved in numerous meetings, developing and implementing policies and protocols to help ensure the safety of the students. Those meetings still continue.

“While I am extremely disappointed that our student-athletes and coaching staff will not get the opportunity to compete right now, we will always support decisions by the NCAA and our conference that are made to protect the health and safety of our players and staff,” SWOSU Interim Athletic Director Todd Helton said. “SWOSU is committed to returning our student-athletes to competition, but only when it is reasonable to do so in a healthy environment.”

The sports of football, volleyball, soccer and cross country had already had their seasons adjusted with the GAC’s earlier decision to delay the start of competition to the beginning of October. The GAC announcement does not affect the sport of rodeo, which is governed by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

Student-athletes impacted by the postponement will continue to have their current scholarships honored. The student-athletes will also continue to have university support, including academic advising, tutoring and athletic training, among other support services.

“We will focus our attention forward and continue to work on addressing the challenges that await us in the near future,” Helton said. “We are grateful to the entire Bulldog Family for their continued support and encouragement.”

An announcement about changing the upcoming dates of SWOSU Homecoming and Family Day events will be made in the near future.

By SWOSU Public Relations

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