SWAC postpones fall sports schedule until spring

SU AD Roman Banks talks about football delay

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WAFB) - The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Council of Presidents and Chancellors held a meeting via Zoom and has decided to postpone the fall sports schedule until spring.

“The SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors felt this action was necessary out of growing concern for the health, safety and well-being both mentally and physically of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, team staff, campus faculty, fans and supporters,” part of the official statement read.

The meeting had been scheduled for a couple of weeks. Officials said football, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball are affected by the decision.

They added the plan for football includes a seven-game conference schedule beginning with an eight-week training period in January 2021. Each team will play a total of six conference games (four divisional/two non-divisional) with the option to play one non-conference game.

“The continued increase of COVID-19 cases across many portions of the league’s geographic footprint and Southern regions of the country played a significant role in the council’s decision, along with data that suggests African-American communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement added.

Southern athletic director Roman Banks said six games for each SWAC school are more likely than seven. The move to the spring also puts New Orleans back on the table to possibly host the Bayou Classic. In regards to having all sports in the spring, Banks joked that he enjoys the chaos a little bit.

“I think it was an easy decision and majority decision to move forward,” said Banks. “This was the best thing for us to do at this particular time for our campuses and our student-athletes.”

As everyone awaited the announcement regarding what the conference would do, Banks said the Jags felt prepared to have a season in the fall. But now, with the added time, it ensures a more fool-proof plan can be implemented.

“I felt comfortable with our plan of attack if we started next month. This is something we’ve been working on. And, obviously, some of our campuses in our league are ahead in that area. So, now, this really gives us a chance with our doctors to go back, do walk-throughs, and make sure we have the very best plan,” Banks explained.

If you compare the fight against the coronavirus to a team sport, Banks said Southern will lean on the coaches in scrubs in the coming months to work out all the kinks going forward.

“We have to depend on the professionals of medicine and science to try and buy ourselves some time to kind of give us insurance with safety of our coaches, students, and fans,” Banks added.

And, in terms of those inside the walls of Jaguar athletics, Banks also said their work ethic is unmatched to ensure everyone gets the chance to compete.

“Our training staff was there from 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. with the facilities and where there were holes with what we scripted out. So, we have a committed group of people that’s willing to do whatever we need to do to make sure our student-athletes are safe,” Banks emphasized.

“The SWAC shares in the disappointment that will undoubtedly be felt by student-athletes, fans, and supporters impacted by the postponement of fall sports competition,” SWAC officials explained.

Additional details about the schedules for women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, and the Cricket Wireless SWAC Football Championship game will be released at a later date. Click here for the full statement.

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College football reporter Brett McMurphy broke the news Friday that sources had told him the SWAC would be announcing the cancellation of fall sports.

The SWAC’s decision was made just a few days after the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) suspended all sports for the 2020 fall season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Big Ten and Pac 12 have announced they will play conference-only games in the fall.

The SEC and other conferences are continuing to monitor the situation before making a decision on fall sports.

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