Following cancellations of postseason tournaments by the NCAA and Big East Conference, the Georgetown Department of Athletics announced March 12 in a press release that all remaining practices and competitions for spring sports are canceled, effective immediately, because of rising concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
The cancellations come amid a number of other changes enacted by the university in response to the pandemic, including the transition to online classes beginning Monday, March 16, through the end of the semester.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed acknowledged the difficulty of the decision and his regret in depriving student-athletes of the opportunity to continue their seasons given the amount of hard work they have dedicated to their sports.
“We recognize the deep disappointment that will be felt by our student-athletes, coaches, and communities — especially our seniors, who have contributed so much to the success of our programs over the last four years,” Reed said in an interview with GU Hoyas. “Please know this decision was made out of the utmost consideration for the health, safety and well-being of all.”
The same day, the NCAA announced the cancellation of both the men’s and women’s March Madness tournaments after originally deciding to hold the remaining competitions without spectators. The decision comes after the Big East Tournament was suspended midgame Thursday as fans were escorted out of Madison Square Garden at halftime of the Creighton vs. St. John’s game.
The Georgetown men’s basketball team (15-17, 5-13 Big East), whose Big East Tournament ended in a first-round exit with a 75-62 loss to St. John’s on Wednesday night, will not return to the court for the remainder of the academic year after the NIT Tournament was also called off. The Georgetown women’s team (5-25, 2-16 Big East) finds itself in the same situation after exiting the Big East Tournament in the first round with a loss to Providence on March 6.
The decision ends any hopes of postseason success for the men’s lacrosse team (6-0), which was off to one of its best starts in over a decade after opening the season with six straight wins and outscoring its opponents 99-38. The undefeated start matches the team’s 2017 undefeated streak and surpasses its opening six-game record of all seasons dating back to 2005. The team also landed itself in the record books after scoring the program’s most goals since 1992 in a 25-12 defeat of Fairfield on Feb. 22 at Cooper Field. The Blue and Gray ended 9th in the nation in the NCAA rankings after entering the season at No. 17.
With the cancellation, the women’s lacrosse program finishes its season with a 4-3 record, ending on a narrow 15-14 loss to UC Davis on Sunday, March 8. In their seven-game season, the women outscored their opponents 98-79. Of its three losses, the Blue and Gray suffered two one-goal losses to UC Davis and Johns Hopkins earlier this season, falling to the Blue Jays in the last second of play on a long-distance shot. The team’s most dominant victory came against George Washington on March 4 as the Hoyas bested the Colonials 21-6. In a much closer contest, the Hoyas grinded out a 12-11 overtime win against Delaware after finding the net with two minutes left on the clock on Feb. 29. At their best, the Hoyas ranked 19th but concluded their seven games outside the top 25 rankings.
The decision also cuts short a difficult season for the Georgetown baseball team, which sits with a record of 4-13 after beginning the regular season Feb. 14. Despite opening the season with a dominant 16-6 win against Navy, the Hoyas suffered a six-game losing streak to start their spring competition. In a shortened season characterized by struggles from the mound and fielding errors, the Blue and Gray did find some success in extra innings after powering a four-run rally off a grand slam in the 10th inning to defeat Richmond 11-8 on Feb. 28. The Hoyas conclude the season with a team ERA of 6.61 and combined batting average of 0.238, compared to their opponents’ ERA of 4.09 and batting average of 0.264. Georgetown also ends with 30 fielding errors to their opponents’ 19.
In its 23-game season, the Georgetown softball team (8-15) struggled on offense after suffering five shutouts in six straight losses to open the season. The remainder of the Hoyas’ season, however, was trending upward as the Blue and Gray grabbed seven wins in its final 11 games, including its 6-4 victory over North Dakota on March 8 in Wilmington, N.C., in what would be the team’s final game. Over the last month, Georgetown recorded a 3.57 ERA to its opponents’ 2.47 average while combining for a 0.240 batting average compared to the 0.248 of its opponents.
The premature end of the spring sports season also brings an end to the men’s and women’s sailing programs, which were gearing up to compete at the Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Championship and National Invite later this year after placing sixth in the Gill College Sailing Coed National Championship to conclude the 2019 spring season.
The Georgetown women’s tennis program concludes its season at 3-8 overall and 2-1 in the conference. The Blue and Gray goes out on a win after breaking a two-game losing streak with a 6-1 defeat of Providence in Orlando, Fla., on March 12. In their 11-game season, the Hoyas suffered three shutout losses while tallying a shutout win of their own in a 4-0 victory over Seton Hall on Feb. 2.
On the men’s side, Georgetown ends the tennis season with an overall record of 4-9 and a 1-3 record in the Big East. Beginning with a 4-3 loss to Butler on Feb. 15, the men’s tennis team dropped six straight matchups before the university suspended its season indefinitely. The Blue and Gray’s most dominant victory of its spring season came in a Jan. 19 shutout victory over Hampton.
The men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up their indoor season at the Big East Indoor Championships on March 1 and 2, both claiming the second spot overall in their competitions. The announcement comes before the beginning of the Hoyas’ outdoor season, which was scheduled to start March 21 at the Penn Challenge in Philadelphia.
Unlike its spring counterparts, the Georgetown women’s golf program only began its season last week with its first match March 9 and 10 at North Florida. On Monday, the team sat tied for 11th place before dropping to 13th place in the field of 16 the following day, ending the 54-hole two-day tournament at 81-over par.
The men’s golf program was unable to take to the course this spring before the university announced the end of the season, as the team was set to compete at the East Carolina Pirate Invitational on March 16 and 17.
Similarly, the women’s and men’s rowing programs saw their spring season completely canceled by the announcement, as neither team was scheduled to compete until March 21.
No spring program outside of the tennis teams had begun conference play before the March 12 announcement by the athletic department.
The cancellations bring into question a number of logistical concerns, specifically regarding the status of senior student-athletes. Collegiate athletes have begun to call for the NCAA and other collegiate athletic associations to consider allowing athletes to gain another year of eligibility given the abrupt end of spring seasons that had just begun. The circumstances, however, would require schools to file a waiver on behalf of the athletes for an exception of eligibility. Also, given that most athletes have already competed in a collegiate game this season, the students fail to meet the requirements for a redshirt season.
Regardless of the college athletic associations’ future decisions on eligibility and on the implications of a shortened spring season, one thing remains certain: Georgetown sports will not return to action this academic year.