4. Pandemic halts PAC competition; fall sports to play in spring 2021

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top ten Grove City College stories of the year. This story is number 4 based on audience interaction and institutional impact. It was originally published Aug. 27.

The COVID-19 pandemic terminated promising seasons for all nine Wolverine spring sports programs and has put all competitions for the College’s fall sports, including football, on hold until after Jan. 1, 2021.

In mid-March, the Presidents’ Athletic Conference suspended all athletically related activities and officially canceled the 2020 spring varsity sports season in April. The pandemic’s continuation led to the Presidents’ Council making a similar decision for the conference’s fall sports competition and agreed not to hold any winter sport varsity competitions prior to the new calendar year.

There was hope for the NCAA-defined “low contact” fall 2020 sports of men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf to be permitted to compete this fall with conference competition only. However, the PAC’s Presidents’ Council voted to postpone all competitions during a virtual meeting on Aug. 26. The decision came not long after an NCAA’s Division III Administrative Committee announcement on Aug. 20 recommending that member schools not compete in the fall term to avoid potential increased health and safety risks.

“Although we would love to be competing this fall in all fall sports, and would have loved to complete seasons last spring, as an athletic department we have approached this as an opportunity to ‘win’ this period of time,” Grove City College Athletic Director Todd Gibson ’02 said. “Our goal was – and is – to not just get through this time period but to work together – coaches, athletes, and staff – to grow our athletic program, build relationships, and recruit student athletes that want to be part of our community.”

“The creative ways that our teams have found to stick together, and get stronger, and the ways our coaches have adapted to mentor, meet, and recruit will last long after this is over. We have very united teams ready to get back in action and potentially the most talented incoming freshman athletic class in school history,” Gibson said. “When the time comes, our teams will be ready!”

PAC leadership voted unanimously this summer to postpone fall 2020 athletic competitions in the NCAA-defined “highcontact” and “medium contact” sports of football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country until the spring 2021 semester.

The PAC also explored moving the NCAAdefined “low contact risk” sports of men’s and women’s outdoor track and field to the fall along with golf and tennis competitions.
PAC outdoor track and field programs have typically held their traditional seasons in the spring.

“Our Presidents’ Council has indicated every intention of having our schools play to the greatest degree possible during the spring 2021 semester, with a continued highest priority on student-athlete health and safety,” Presidents’ Athletic Conference Commissioner Joe Onderko said.

NCAA Division III has provided a blanket waiver providing all 2020 spring sports varsity athletes with an additional season of eligibility, as a result of the nationwide cancellation of spring sports.

4. Pandemic halts PAC competition; fall sports to play in spring 2021

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