The NJCAA made the difficult decision after recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and canceled all upcoming basketball championships as well as spring competition, effective immediately.
NJCAA president and CEO Christopher Parker said it was a tough decision.
“In light of the progressive evolvement of the COVID-19 situation, the NJCAA has decided to end all competition for the remainder of the academic year,” Parker said in a statement to the NJCAA member schools. “As an association, the NJCAA exhausted all possible avenues to potentially postpone competition for both upcoming basketball championships and spring sport competition. We believe following the recommendations of the CDC is in the best interest of our member colleges and our student-athletes.”
The spring competition includes all practices, regular season, post-season, and national championship play.
As for eligibility for spring sports, no spring sport student-athlete who was enrolled at a member college in 2020 will be charged a year of participation.
WNCC baseball coach Mike Jones said it is unchartered territories, but for now the Cougar baseball, and softball, seasons are shut down.
“As of today, we are finished,” Jones said. “The season is done. The ruling has come down. Not only games, but practices. Everything has been finished for the season. For us it is important that everyone is well taken care of at this point and everyone as plans to be home with their families or to take care of themselves as they stay here at WNCC.”
Along with the cancellation of competition, all on and off-campus recruiting for all sports will be halted until April 15 with further evaluation to be assessed at that point in time.
The NJCAA statement said the NJCAA will explore the opportunity to expand allowable Letters of Intent for spring sports for both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years under the recommendation of the NJCAA Eligibility Committee. The eligibility committee will meet Thursday, March 19 to review the letter of intent increases.
Jones said the extra year of eligibility, as well as whether sophomores move on to four 4-yeear, makes for a different twist for the coaches and players.
“There is a twist on everybody’s ability to return,” he said. “According to the NJCAA, everybody will be granted their year of eligibility back. However that is a tough decision for the students with their college credits and where they are if they are going to graduate with an associate’s degree and time to move on. There are still a lot of questions but it is nice that that NJCAA granted their eligibility back.”
Jones said this whole COVID-19 situation is new to everyone one.
“All across the world right now is a strange circumstance,” Jones said. “Nobody has a lot of experience of dealing with this. It is brand new to all of us. I am sure there is trial and error that will go on. But the main thing for us is to make sure everybody is safe at this point. We will then move on and worry about next year after all this is over.”