The America East Conference, which includes the University of Maine, has revealed a series of steps about how it hopes to approach a return to competition during the winter season.
The league’s board of presidents voted on basketball testing protocols and schedule formats as well as the season structures for indoor track and field and swimming and diving. America East also finalized its spring sports scheduling plans.
For basketball, the board approved the conference’s COVID-19 testing pathways recommendations, which comply with NCAA guidance. It agreed that non-conference opponents also must follow testing procedures for at least one week prior to competing against an America East team.
The testing pathways were developed in consultation with the league’s Health and Safety Committee and Campus Health Advisory Group and through health and travel guidance from the conference’s eight states.
America East approved basketball scheduling formats for the 2020-21 season and those are expected to be announced next month. Plans call for a full 18-game schedule that will include Saturday-Sunday weekend series at one site.
Conference play will begin the weekend of Dec. 19-20 and some weekends later in the season will be left open to potentially account for any postponed games. It also allows member schools to play non-league games during the first three weeks of the season.
“We are universally committed to responsibly prepare an environment and schedule that safely positions each institution and the conference for basketball competition,” America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen said. “We acknowledge this will be a unique season with many variables both within and outside of our control, but we will continue working with relevant stakeholder groups as we build towards a basketball season that prioritizes the health and safety of our teams and broader campus communities.”
The board of presidents also announced the cancellation of the 2021 indoor track and field championships while allowing schools to compete during the regular season at their discretion.
For swimming and diving, the regular season and championship will be moved to the spring semester with the dates yet to be determined.
“These decisions are prudent as we continue to prioritize student-athlete health and safety while balancing the challenges brought forth by the pandemic, including facility availability and indoor density constraints,” Huchthausen said. “Making these decisions now gives us time to plan for more meaningful competition experiences later in the spring for affected student-athletes, including staging championships in cross country, swimming and diving, and outdoor track and field.”
America East also confirmed its plan to push fall sports to the spring.
Field hockey will feature an eight-game schedule for a regular season to run March 19-April 17. The top four teams will compete in the league championship April 22 and 24.
Women’s soccer is slated for a six-game season (March 7-April 11) and a four-team championship on April 16 and 18. Cross Country will hold its championship on March 5 at a site that has not been determined.
“Having these formats in place will allow us to continue planning for an unprecedented and action-packed spring while also maintaining the flexibility to make adjustments as circumstances and conditions unfold,” Huchthausen said.