Atlantic University Sport will not proceed with regular season competition or championships in winter 2021
AUS to allow member-driven competition this winter semester if public health directives allow
(HALIFAX, N.S.) Atlantic University Sport has announced that it will not proceed with conference-sanctioned regular seasons or postseasons for the remainder of the 2020-21 season and will not host any conference championships.
However, AUS will allow member-driven competition for the upcoming winter semester.
The decision means schools will be permitted to engage in competition at a level they are comfortable with, and would likely see the teams involved face opponents they are in closer proximity to geographically.
Each of the AUS’s 11 individual member universities will determine its own level of participation in accordance with the most up-to-date public health directives.
“We had hoped to be able to get to a place where we could see some semblance of a regular season and postseason take place for our winter sport student-athletes,” said AUS executive director Phil Currie. “Unfortunately given the current realities in many of our regions, and evolving public health directives, this won’t be possible.”
“What we are encouraged by is the decision of our board of directors to continue to allow member-driven competition in the new year if public health guidelines allow. The safety of our student-athletes, campuses and surrounding communities is the top priority. But we are also in the business of delivering sport opportunities to young people. And our member universities intend to provide those opportunities so long as the experts deem it safe to do so at that time.”
Last month, AUS announced the formation of a new committee dedicated to exploring possible return-to-play options for January 2021 and beyond.
The Return-to-Play Committee was comprised of an athletic director from each of the four Atlantic provinces, along with two representatives from the AUS conference office. Its mandate was to develop a framework which would allow for a safe and viable return to conference-sanctioned competition this season.
“With guidance and input from public health and building on a lot of the groundwork already laid regarding safe practices on our respective campuses, we were able to create a very thorough plan in a short window of time,” said UNB director of athletics and AUS president John Richard, who served as chair of the AUS Return-to-Play Committee.
The committee developed a comprehensive framework which includes guidelines for participants and facilities, travel considerations, risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans and possible approaches to sport programming.
The framework was first submitted to public health in the four Atlantic provinces for feedback, and was then deliberated on by the AUS board of directors, which is comprised of the presidents of each of its member universities.
“As a group that is extremely passionate about sport, we are disappointed for our student-athletes and stakeholders that regular seasons and championships won’t be possible this winter. But we acknowledge and respect the current realities and the steps being taken by those in leadership positions to keep everyone safe,” said Richard.
“We’re still hopeful there will be a pathway for meaningful competition for many of our student-athletes this winter and we’re grateful the board has afforded us that opportunity.”
“The Board was extremely impressed with the detailed framework developed by the Return-to-Play Committee,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, chair of the AUS board of directors and president of Acadia University. “But, given the state of the pandemic in our region and having the health and safety of our student-athletes first and foremost in our minds, we could not see our way to endorsing a return to conference competition play at this time or in the near future.”
AUS member schools intend to utilize the content developed in the return-to-play document as they determine their respective paths forward next semester.
Fundamental to the framework is the principle that the most current public health directives will always determine the approach and that any and all planned competition may be altered or cancelled in the event of a new or worsening outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in any relevant region.