SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – Union College will not participate in intercollegiate men’s and women’s ice hockey competition during the 2020-21 school year, the College announced on Tuesday afternoon.
“This was an incredibly difficult and disappointing decision that we had to make in the best interest of our entire community, a decision that I was heartbroken to deliver to our student-athletes earlier today,” said Director of Athletics Jim McLaughlin ’93. “The pandemic continues to affect all aspects of our daily lives and unfortunately intercollegiate athletics, like many other extracurricular pursuits that students are passionate about on our campus, is not immune.”
Union has been successful through the fall term in keeping the number of positive COVID-19 cases low. In order to maintain this positive momentum headed into the winter term, it will be critical to continue the safety precautions of social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and limiting travel to and from campus – all of which pose significant challenges to participating in intercollegiate athletics.
The health and safety of the campus community is and will continue to be the driving influence in all decisions. The College has examined and considered multiple options to enable safe competition, but the continued and significant rise in infection rates and concerning trends prevent us from moving forward in good conscience. In the end, the College has a responsibility to our students, staff and community to not place them at risk.
“We explored every possibility to allow our students to compete, including remote learning opportunities within close proximity to campus. Unfortunately, we could not identify a scenario that allowed us to compete safely without compromising the academic experience of our student-athletes, which is the primary reason students choose to attend Union along with the ability to compete at the highest level of competition on a national stage,” McLaughlin added. “My heart goes out to all but particularly our seniors, who have established themselves as leaders in the classroom, in the community and on the ice throughout their careers at Union.”
Union’s teams will continue to work with coaches and staff for support and on-ice opportunities throughout the winter term, allowing players the opportunity to hone their skills and grow both as students and as athletes.
Men’s and women’s ice hockey will be provided an additional season of competition and an additional academic year in which to compete, as part of the recent decision by the NCAA Division I Council for all winter sports.
We look forward to the time when we can safely be back together to cheer on all of our Union teams and we continue to evaluate the prospect of spring sports competition with our league partners.
(Union College photo)