Oglethorpe University will postpone its 2020 fall sports season to early next year.

The Southern Athletic Association, a National College Athletic Association Division III conference which includes Oglethorpe athletics, announced its decision to suspend all athletic competition on July 16.

“We, of course, are disappointed; however, we remain steadfast in our commitment to optimizing our university experience for everyone and look forward to a more positive future,” Oglethorpe President Nicholas Ladany said in a press release.

Fall teams at Oglethorpe include cross country, soccer and volleyball. Parts of the basketball, golf and tennis seasons will also be affected.

Students at Oglethorpe University will move back into the resident halls during the first week of September, according to a July 15 weekly update from the university’s COVID-19 task force. Courses will be offered as a mixture of online-only or hybrid in-person and online teaching models. About 42% of classes are scheduled to be completely online, and 58% will be a hybrid model, according to a COVID-19 task force update.

Student athletes at Oglethorpe will still train using COVID-19 safety guidelines from the SAA, NCAA and federal and state public health guidelines, according to the release.

“We want to keep our athletes in top shape and ready to compete as soon as advisable,” Oglethorpe Athletics Director Todd Brooks said in the release.

The SAA said in a statement the postponement was a months-long decision.

“As the pandemic evolves, the SAA will continue to monitor the situation and intends to resume fall sports competition in early 2021,” SAA Commissioner Jay Gardiner said in a press release.

The SAA is also requesting the NCAA to postpone fall championships until spring 2021.

NCAA plans to continue to have sports competitions following specific guidelines to protect athletes and prevent COVID-19 community spread, according to a July 16 press release.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said in the release that spring 2020 championships could not go on because there was no safe way to host them and hopes sports can resume if the COVID-19 rates become more manageable.

“Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic,” Emmert said in the release.

NCAA Division I football, which includes athletics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is set to start conference play on Aug. 29.

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