In this September 2018 file photo, Colby College football coach Jack Cosgrove pumps his fist in approval during a practice in Waterville. Credit: Courtesy of Ben Wheeler Photography

Colby College head football coach Jack Cosgrove said he totally agrees with the decision by the New England Small College Athletic Conference to cancel fall sports because of health concerns involving the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league announced its decision Friday in a press release.

“The NESCAC Presidents have decided unanimously, though with great reluctance, that NESCAC conference competition for fall sports must be canceled for fall 2020,” it read.

The conference also is home to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, which last month announced that it had called off its fall sports season, and Bates College in Lewiston, which had opened the door for on-campus student-athlete workouts while waiting for a decision on the season.

“It’s really the right thing to do,” said Cosgrove, the former longtime coach at the University of Maine. “The more and more you learn, the more certain you become about the health and safety aspect. We aren’t talking about the violence of the game, we’re talking about just conducting practices or even going to class.”

NESCAC institutions have been focused on the safe reopening of their campuses this fall. Some recently announced plans for the upcoming year, with the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff and the broader community as the foremost concern.

NESCAC presidents affirmed their support of athletics for their students and announced that they will take measures to provide for some activities.

“Conference members will continue to work together to seek creative ways to provide meaningful athletic opportunities for our students during the upcoming academic year. To that end, the Presidents have agreed to modify some NESCAC rules to enable coaches and students to engage in practice and training opportunities outside the traditional season, in accordance with the rules of each member institution and local health directives.”

Cosgrove, who was to begin his third season at Colby, is irritated by the irresponsibility of some national leaders and people who won’t adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

As a result, coronavirus cases continue spiking in various parts of the country.

“We have a misbehaving country,” Cosgrove said. “Everybody wants their First Amendment rights. They want to go to the beaches and the bars. No one respects [the guidelines],” he said.

Colby plans to start in-person classes on Aug. 26 and Cosgrove said the school has a plan in place for athletics that would include allowing them to have a non-traditional fall season comparable to the 15 days of spring football practice they have at UMaine.

There has been some talk that NESCAC fall sports could be moved to the spring. Cosgrove said that would be a tall order, although he would be willing to do it because it would mean his 18 seniors would have an opportunity to finish their football careers.

“They have been great leaders and great role models,” said Cosgrove, who explained the school calendar likely would mean a shortened season.

“But any football is better than no football and it would be appreciated by the seniors,” he said.

Moving all the fall sports to the second semester spring would require some significant adjustments.

“The biggest concern that would be rampant throughout the conference would be facilities,” Cosgrove said.

“Maybe we have the field space to do it, but we wouldn’t have enough staffing at all — the trainers and all the support people. They would have to hire more people.”

The weather also likely would be a concern, given the unpredictability of the spring. Cosgrove said he has great respect for the coaches of spring sports.

“The best time in Maine [weather-wise] is now until the end of October. I don’t know how you coach a spring sport in Maine,” he said. “You see the coaches out there in their down parkas.”

NESCAC officials said they will continue to monitor federal, state and local guidance in regard to COVID-19 and also will consult with NCAA about the possibility of further changes to NESCAC rules.

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Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor...