The Big East Conference announced Aug. 12 that it would be canceling all athletic competition for the fall in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision is in line with University President John J. DeGioia’s (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) decision in early July for Georgetown University to continue remote learning through at least the fall semester. This cancellation affects Georgetown men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s rowing, men’s and women’s sailing, and men’s and women’s cross-country programs.
This decision makes the Big East the fifth major athletic conference to cancel competition for the fall season, following the Ivy League, Mid-American Conference, Big 10 and PAC-12 Conference. With this announcement, there will be no fall athletic activities, including practices and competitions, for Georgetown athletes. This circumstance means Georgetown athletes will not be granted special permission to live on campus on account of hosting practice.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed stated the athletic department sympathizes with disappointed athletes, coaches and staff.
“I understand the incredible sadness and frustration our student-athletes, coaches, and staff are feeling upon learning this news and can assure you I, too, am disappointed that we will not be competing this fall,” Reed wrote in an athletics department email. “I recognize that the continuation of time without competition is extremely frustrating for all of our student-athletes; however, the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff, as well as our campus communities, remains our highest priority. Since March, I have observed our student-athletes continue to overcome challenges and I know that, despite the latest setback, we will get through this. We remain committed to supporting our student-athletes remotely and will not stop in preparing for the day that we can all safely return to the Hilltop.”
Many Hoya coaches expressed their disappointment about the fall but are optimistic going forward.
“We are disappointed in not being able to compete this fall, but we understand and accept the challenges of this unprecedented time. We support our leadership at Georgetown wholeheartedly,” Georgetown field hockey Head Coach Christy Longacre said in an official statement. “We will be ready for the time that we will be together again, whenever that time may be.”
Georgetown volleyball Head Coach David Heller shared a similar sentiment about the fall season’s cancellation.
“Our efforts are not diminished by this decision. We will continue to set and achieve goals that are geared toward personal development and creating a culture of acceptance and inclusion,” Heller said in an official statement. “This team has handled challenge after challenge with great maturity, and I expect this to be no different. We recognize the difficulty of all of the decisions that are being made regarding COVID-19, and we know that the Georgetown community will continue to support us, even without a fall season.”
The cancellation of the fall athletic season means Georgetown’s men’s soccer program will not have a chance to defend its national championship title this fall. Despite this fact, the players and coaches deserve a chance to possibly repeat, according to Deloitte Consulting CEO and Georgetown men’s soccer commentator Dan Helfrich (SFS ’98, GRD ’99).
“I am certainly hopeful that the coming weeks bring even more optimism regarding the prospects of a spring season,” Helfrich wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The players and coaches deserve clarity – and therefore a pathway to prepare this fall and winter for a successful, albeit unique, Big East and NCAA championship defense.”
The Big East also stated that no official decision has been made yet regarding winter and spring athletic competition. Most notably, this lack of decision leaves the door open for Georgetown basketball to still compete in the 2020-21 school year, with the winter season beginning in November for basketball and swimming. Big East leadership has also said they are open to the possibility of playing fall athletic competition in the spring, depending upon the state of the pandemic in the future.