Intercollegiate Athletics Return to Competition, Fitness Center and Club Sport Activities Continue

By Susan Bassett, March 12, 2021
A message from Susan Bassett, director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports, associate vice president for student affairs.

IC Public Health Column video.

Spring has sprung! Last week, the Liberty League and Ithaca College announced plans to engage in spring sport competition. This is a moment we have all been working toward since March 12, 2020, when the NCAA canceled winter sport championships and all spring sport competition and championships. 

The process for our re-engagement in athletics practices, training and competition has been led by Dr. Andrew Getzin, IC team physician and Mike Matheny, head athletics trainer; in collaboration with the Health and Safety Advisory Group, notably Christina Moylan, director of public health and emergency preparedness and Ellyn Sellers-Selin, M.D., medical director for the Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness.

The unanimous support from all 11 presidents of Liberty League members resulted from a thorough review of numerous studies that indicate participation in athletic competition is not a primary driver of COVID-19 transmission. All Liberty League spring sports are low or intermediate risk outdoor sports and are following the same requirements for hosting competition. Furthermore, the seasons have been modified in terms of duration and number of contests. All travel will be same-day travel with no overnights, and all participants will complete daily health screenings and be tested prior to competition. 

The Liberty League and Ithaca College spring competition plan balances individual and public safety with the benefits of the safe return to competitive sports. The plan is written with current available data and guidelines, which in fact exceeds the requirements set forth by the NCAA. The plan allows athletes to compete in their sport while mitigating the risk to the campus community. 

This plan includes ways to reduce the risk to participants and the campus community by emphasizing good hand hygiene, mask wearing, physical distancing when possible and required testing prior to competition.  Shared standards within the Liberty League for testing, travel, host facility access and criteria for canceling a contest will be agreed upon before any competitions take place. 

Can spectators attend?

At this point it has been determined that spectators will not be permitted to attend athletic events. This includes all outside individuals and students, as well as faculty and staff who are cleared to be on campus. We know that this is a disappointing policy but is necessary for the safety of our entire campus community. Ithaca College athletics will make every effort to webcast all home contests.

Athletic practice and competition will be guided by the Ithaca College four-tiered, color-coded system. This system provides reference points to make operational decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic based on positivity rate within our campus community. In the green or yellow phase, we anticipate that athletic practice and competition will continue unless the positivity rate within a specific athletic team or the athletic program overall is high. This may not necessitate all athletic activities ceasing, with decisions being made on a sport-by-sport basis. Should the college be required to move to orange or red status, athletic practice and competition would be suspended, as would most activities on the campus.

While intercollegiate athletics is fully engaged this spring with training, practices and now spring sport competition, recreation and fitness activities have been in full swing as well. Stay Active. Stay Healthy. Stay Involved. Programs and activities offered include both virtual and in-person opportunities. Please visit the Fitness Center website for details on how to participate.

Club sports are phasing in practices with safety protocols implemented for their safe engagement. All questions regarding club sport activities should be directed to Associate Director of Athletics for Recreation Sean Reilley.


Susan Bassett, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs