By Jackson Sparks, Sports Editor
The Southern Conference announced on August 13 that all fall league play will be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
These sports include football, volleyball, soccer, and cross country. The decision came down to a vote from each of the SoCon universities. As the fall season rapidly approached, a medical committee made up of one individual from each campus mulled over the decision before concluding that the games should be cancelled until spring. However, each of the SoCon universities were still able to schedule non-conference games if they so choose.
With the bulk of Chattanooga’s athletic events being postponed, there are still a few opportunities to catch them play. The Mocs football team plans to play at Western Kentucky on Oct. 30 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This game serves as a revenue game for Chattanooga and is being used similarly to a spring game. Right as spring practice was set to being in early March, the coronavirus arrived in full force, extinguishing spring football plans.
“In consultation with our leadership team and Rusty (Wright),” said University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic director Mark Wharton.” We felt like we could practice for three weeks and have kind of a spring camp and Western Kentucky would be our ‘spring’ game.”
“After that we can transition to an off-season, then know where we are going to be in the spring for soccer, volleyball, football, and cross-country,” said Wharton.
Chattanooga has also agreed to play one soccer game and one volleyball game against the Georgia State panthers here in Chattanooga.
Wharton was confident that these couple of games will be played safely and successfully. “Since that first announcement in early August, testing has gotten better,” said Wharton. “We have worked very closely with the Hamilton Country health department as well as our campus health and managed all of the required testing appropriately.”
His confidence is validated as no one within Mocs athletics has a positive Covid-19 test as of now. “Since our teams have gotten back, I think they have gotten the message,” said Wharton.
Wharton encouraged fans to tune in and support our Chattanooga athletes. Although there will be no fan attendance for the games in Chattanooga, streams will be available and social media will be active.
He also stressed the tremendous importance of the games in regard to the mental health of the student-athletes. “For the mental health of our players, its important to know that they’ve got something ahead of them, to compete,” said Wharton.
Moving forward after fall, the NCAA has agreed to a waiver to add a year of eligibility for student-athletes that were scheduled to leave after this fall season.
Mocs athletics will look vastly different than it has in the past, but there are still opportunities to watch our athletes compete and there is hope that a season of more normalcy can take place in the spring.