C-USA cancels all spring sport competition, championships after unanimous vote

Drake Kizer

A unanimous vote by the Conference USA Board of Directors has officially canceled all spring sport competition and championships, effective immediately, the league office announced on Monday.

“Our athletes make many sacrifices in order to compete for a championship, and when this opportunity no longer remains it is a sad and unfortunate outcome,” WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said in a release.

“No one is happy, but everyone understands the necessity of this decision. Given the magnitude of the challenges our country faces, we all know it is imperative that we alter our lifestyles immediately. While there is currently an empty feeling, we will get through this together and look forward to the day when normalcy returns throughout our great nation.”

The announcement came just four days after the conference suspended all spring sport competition for league institutions until further notice on March 12. Now, the league has officially updated its indefinite suspension to a permanent cancellation of both spring sport competition and postseason play.

Both announcements were necessitated by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which forced the C-USA Tournament to cease a few days early and caused the NCAA to cancel its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in addition to calling off all of its remaining spring and winter championship events.

The league’s latest announcement officially ended the 2019-20 sports calendar on the Hill, meaning the university’s 14 intercollegiate athletic programs — six men’s sports teams and eight women’s sports teams — are all finished playing through scheduled contests until next fall rolls around.

WKU football, soccer, volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, softball, baseball and tennis combined for a 129-50-1 record during the 2019-20 academic year — a .716 winning percentage.

The NCAA announced March 13 that its Division I Council Coordination Committee agreed eligibility relief is appropriate for spring sports impacted by COVID-19, meaning student-athletes who have participated in spring sports this season will be granted another year of collegiate eligibility.

Baseball, softball, tennis, men’s and women’s track and field and men’s and women’s golf are the WKU programs with student-athletes that would qualify for the proposed eligibility waiver, but the NCAA is still looking into issues related to winter sport student-athletes whose postseason events were cancelled.

Any decisions related to eligibility of winter sport student-athletes could affect members of the WKU men’s and women’s basketball programs, as both the Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers were stripped of their ability to compete in conference or NCAA Tournament events last week.

Some members of those programs may not return to Bowling Green no matter what the NCAA decides about winter sport student-athletes, as Lady Topper redshirt senior forward Dee Givens and Hilltopper graduate guard Camron Justice have already shared heartfelt farewells to the WKU faithful.

The NCAA has also banned in-person recruiting, which includes official and unofficial visits to campus for recruits, until at least April 15. WKU Athletics spokesman Zach Greenwell told the Herald the department’s practice and workout plans are still being evaluated in the wake of the league’s latest announcement.

As previously reported, WKU Athletics has already prohibited all formal, informal and voluntary workouts through Friday to coincide with the university’s extended spring break.

This is a developing story. More details will be published as they become available.

Sports Editor Drake Kizer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.