The Big West Conference, which includes area schools like Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, announced Thursday that it will not be hosting seasons for fall sports.
The seasons for Big West fall sports were initially postponed in the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. The conference decided it could not go ahead with those seasons after all.
The conference said its decision was made with hopes of stemming the surge of COVID-19 cases and preserving the significant resources that would be needed to carry out a safe season amid the pandemic.
"The decision of the Board to not conduct men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s indoor volleyball for the 2020-21 academic year came after extended consideration of the ongoing health and safety challenges affecting Big West campuses and communities, and the significant resources required to properly safeguard the health and well-being of all student-athletes," the conference said in a statement released Thursday.
The decision means there will be no men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country and indoor volleyball for this academic year.
The Big West is a non-football conference, meaning the announcement does not effect Cal poly's football season. The Mustangs are in the Big Sky Conference for football and are still scheduled to kick off their season Feb. 28 against Southern Utah.
The announcement does mean no soccer for Cal Poly and UCSB, which both field traditionally successful programs. The Cal Poly women's volleyball team has also grown into a perennial conference contender.
Again, the conference's decision does not impact fall sports unaffiliated with the Big West.
“Protecting the health and safety of our student-athletes and following public health guidelines are our top priorities,” Big West Commissioner Dan Butterly said in the statement. “Despite a strong desire to return our fall sport student-athletes to competition, the Board unanimously agreed that the resources and protocols needed to safely and equitably conduct fall, winter and spring sports seasons concurrently was not in line with those priorities nor in the best interests of our student-athletes and coaches.”
Cal Poly and UCSB are among the conference schools currently fielding men's and women's basketball teams.
The conference said its board will "will continue to monitor and evaluate the current program of COVID-19 medical and safety protocols in men’s and women’s basketball. Basketball will guide a decision regarding a safe return to competition for Big West spring sports. That decision is expected by late January 2021."
As medical and scientific data rapidly evolves surrounding the pandemic, the conference will continue to monitor developments and will consider additional actions as needed, the Big West said in its statement.