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Bowdoin College in Brunswick on Monday became the first Maine university to announce its plans for the fall semester.
The announcement is likely to hit the athletics community hard as Bowdoin revealed that it will not sponsor any sports during the fall semester.
Citing the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the Brunswick community, Bowdoin will only allow its first-year and transfer students, along with select others, to return to campus with all classes scheduled to be offered virtually.
“Athletics is an important part of the Bowdoin experience for so many of our students,” Bowdoin President Clayton Rose said. “Unfortunately, given that we will not have all students on campus in the fall, we will not be participating in fall and winter varsity sports during the fall semester.”
Rose called it one of the most disappointing outcomes of Bowdoin’s plans.
Bowdoin has not dismissed the possibility of engaging in sports activities during the second semester. That would only occur after Jan. 1, 2021, if students are welcomed back to campus.
“We expect to have our seniors, juniors, and sophomores return to campus for the spring semester, with the added possibility that our winter and spring athletes may be able to engage with their sports in some way,” Rose said.
However, at present Bowdoin expects that its first-year and transfer students will be studying remotely during the second semester.
The New England Small College Athletic Conference is developing plans for fall, winter, and spring sports. It will provide guidelines for how coaches will be permitted to interact with their athletes, including some form of collaboration for fall season athletes.
Colby College in Waterville and Bates College in Lewiston also are NESCAC members.
“I am hopeful that there will be an opportunity for the winter, spring, and possibly fall varsity athletes to participate and compete in some form after January 1,” Rose said.
He explained that varsity athletes living on campus are likely to have in-person workout opportunities with coaches while off-campus students will not have such opportunities.
The conference is working on its guidelines for a return to athletics, including possible modifications to league rules to allow institutions flexibility to provide for meaningful experiences for students within school policies and federal, state and local health directives.