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Liberty League, Ithaca College Announce Return to Spring Sports Competition

Contributed by News on 03/01/21 

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The Liberty League—of which Ithaca College is a member—has announced that the league’s Presidents Council has unanimously agreed on a plan for a return to athletics competition this spring. Under the plan, Liberty League competition will begin no earlier than the weekend of March 26, with competition predominantly taking place among league member institutions. Ithaca College student-athletes and team personnel will adhere to a rigorous COVID-19 testing protocol in order to ensure a healthy and safe environment for competition.

“The Liberty League will move forward with cautious optimism as we look to provide competitive opportunities for our student-athletes,” said league commissioner Tracy King. “While COVID-19 infection rates have been declining both nationally and regionally, infectious variants pose a continued threat to our campus communities and our plan for competition. The health and safety of our student-athletes will remain our top priority as we resume Liberty League athletics competition on our campuses.”

Liberty League spring sports include baseball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s rowing, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field. Ithaca College sponsors all of these with the exception of men’s golf.

The return to competition is a milestone event for the league and IC, as the last home competition on South Hill took place on March 7, 2020, and the final event to be completed last spring occurred on March 12—a softball doubleheader in Florida.

“This is truly a gift,” said Associate Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports Susan Bassett ’79. “Nearly one year after athletics competitions were suspended, we are on the precipice of resuming, with all of the appropriate modifications, safety controls and limitations required to make this possible. I want to thank President Collado, Vice President Ferro, Medical Director Dr. Ellyn Sellers-Selin and Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness Christina Moylan and the IC Health and Safety Committee for supporting the Bombers’ return to sport competition.”

“I know how heartbreaking it has been for our scholar-athletes to be sidelined for so long,” said Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado. “As with all of the decisions that the college has been making over this past year, we continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our campus and local communities. I extend my deepest appreciation to those who have been diligently, carefully, and creatively planning for this moment, and I share in the excitement of our scholar-athletes as they look ahead to the opportunity to once again join their teammates in competition.”

“I could not be happier for our student-athletes and coaches,” said Vice President for Students Affairs and Campus Life Rosanna Ferro. “I would like to thank President Collado, Director of Athletics Bassett, our health and wellness staff and our peer institutions for the countless hours of dedication it took to get to today’s announcement. Our student-athletes have been working so hard in anticipation for this day to arrive, and I wish them all the best of luck in the weeks and months to come.”

Each member institution will compete in modified seasons, with reduced contests. Overnight trips have been eliminated from scheduling, resulting in same-day travel for all events. No outside spectators will be permitted at any contest and testing will be required prior to any competition for all student-athletes and associated personnel. Face coverings will also be mandated except during actual competition.

“Our student-athletes and coaches have been working toward this moment under extraordinary circumstances following strict protocols with discipline, attention to detail and sense of purpose,” said Bassett. “Their collective perseverance is inspirational. We know that our return and continuation is dependent on keeping COVID-19 under control. We accept this responsibility and will live up to the confidence placed in us.

“Team Physician Dr. Andrew Getzin and Head Athletic Trainer Mike Matheny have worked tirelessly to pursue the safe ‘Return to Sport’ for our more than 750 student-athletes,” Bassett continued. “Together, they have been leading and facilitating this process as a primary focus since April 2020 as the CDC, NCAA and other governing bodies started to release guidelines, metrics and studies. Through the course of this past year, they researched, drafted, redrafted, consulted colleagues, adapted and revised plans as new information became available. They have left no stone unturned to make athletics participation safe and viable. We are deeply grateful to our sports medicine team.”

Liberty League institutions are permitted to engage in competition against non-league opponents as long as they adhere to the league’s COVID-19 return-to-play protocols. League schedules will be posted online in the coming weeks but are subject to change due to the changing COVID landscape.

“We also recognize the autonomy of our institutions to make decisions that are in the best interests of their campus communities, including decisions on spring athletics participation,” King added. “While we plan to move forward with Liberty League spring competition and championships, we respect and support those decisions and understand that institutional policies and circumstances may dictate that schools opt out or suspend spring athletics competition.”

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