Local college conferences announce fall changes

Niagara Falls native and former Daemen guard Breon Harris dribbles during a game in his senior season, 2019-20, at the Lumsden Gymnasium in Amherst.

A difficult week for college conferences across the country hit at the local level Thursday.

Four conferences with local ties — the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference, Atlantic 10 and East Coast Conference — announced some level of fall postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MAAC, home to Niagara University and Canisius College, canceled non-conference play for soccer and volleyball following a vote of its Council of Presidents. The Council also voted for "no summer access" for basketball players, meaning typical summer workouts won't occur until student-athletes hit campus for the fall semester.

The MAAC also announced its Council of Presidents would meet again July 24 to consider modifications to conference play for volleyball and soccer.

The MAC, of which the University at Buffalo is a member, postponed the start of all fall sports until Sept. 3, aligning field hockey, soccer, women's volleyball and cross country with the start of football season.

"The decision will provide additional time to prepare for the safe return to competition on an adjusted timeline," read a press release.

The conference said it would "continue to assess the latest developments related to COVID-19," meaning more changes could be coming.

St. Bonaventure University's A-10 took it a step further, postponing all conference-sponsored sports — soccer, field hockey, cross country, volleyball, men's golf, tennis, swimming and diving, women's rowing and fall-league baseball, softball and women's lacrosse — indefinitely.

The league will start preparing to hold those sports in spring 2021, though there is a "look-in window" in mid-September that allows for a shortened season in fall if the "COVID-19 risk has substantially been reduced."

The A-10 also announced that it would not be making any changes to schedules for winter sports at this time.

"As a basketball-centric conference, the league acknowledged basketball contests begin in November, however determined it would be premature to make decisions on their competitive schedules at this date," a press release stated.

The ECC, a Division II conference that houses both Daemen College and D'Youville College, announced that its Council of Presidents unanimously voted to suspend fall competition and the start of winter seasons until Jan. 1.

Sports affected include basketball, indoor track and field, women's bowling, cross country, soccer and women's volleyball. Women's tennis, another fall offering, had already been moved to spring after a vote in June.

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