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Hofstra, Stony Brook won't play fall sports

Hofstra's Sabrina Bryan controls the ball during a

Hofstra's Sabrina Bryan controls the ball during a first-round NCAA Division I women's soccer championship game at Hofstra on Nov. 16, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Hofstra and Stony Brook announced Friday the schools will not be playing sports in the fall as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to roil the college sports landscape.

Both schools said they hope to resume sports in the second semester and are exploring plans to play the fall sports in the spring.

“This was the direction I saw this going, so I was not surprised,” Stony Brook director of athletics Shawn Heilbron said. “I think this gives our student-athletes the best possibility to compete at a later date. There was so much uncertainty around the fall. I think this gives us all clarity and allows us to finally move forward after four months of being in limbo.”

Hofstra's sports teams and the Stony Brook football team are part of the Colonial Athletic Association, which left the decision to play up to each school. But the CAA football board of directors decided to suspend the conference football season.

Stony Brook's other teams play in the America East Conference, which announced Friday that all fall sports would be postponed. The sports affected include soccer, cross country, golf, tennis, field hockey and football.

Colleges and universities across the country are grappling with the issues of trying to play amid the pandemic, with many schools already deciding to postpone the fall seasons. 

On Friday, the Atlantic 10 Conference joined the Ivy League and Patriot League among the Division I conferences postponing their fall seasons.

College football, which generates millions of dollars in revenue for some schools, remains in flux with conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 announcing that a decision whether to play will come later this month.

The Big Ten and the Pac-12 have shortened their seasons by canceling all nonconference games. Earlier this week, the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day was canceled for the first time since World War II. The game is still scheduled to be played in Pasadena, California.

The financial impact of the coronavirus has forced some schools to cancel sports programs. Stanford cut 11 sports teams earlier in the month, citing a gap in resources because of the pandemic.

Hofstra director of athletics Rick Cole said it was in the best interest of the student-athletes, coaches and school to postpone the fall season and try to play in the winter and spring. 

“I think there are other institutions that are still looking at the option of playing," Cole said, "but I think the majority [of other schools in the conference] — if they haven’t announced — they will announce they are moving to the spring.”

The New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, Adelphi University in Garden City and Molloy College in Rockville Centre have already announced they will not play sports in the fall. Long Island University, with campuses in Brookville and Brooklyn, is part of the Northeast Conference, which has delayed the start of its fall sports season to Sept. 10. 

Stony Brook football coach Chuck Priore called trying to play this fall "complex."

“I think it would have been difficult," Priore said. "Doable, but difficult.”

Priore said the lack of proper training during the pandemic could put student-athletes at a greater risk for injury.

“Most kids didn’t have gym access for the last 16 weeks, especially with our roster full of New York and New York City kids, who still don’t have the opportunities and don’t have gyms and weights at home,” said Priore, who has been Stony Brook’s head coach since 2006. “I think those challenges of not being athletically ready would have been tough.”

Priore said 25 football players returned to campus on Sunday, and that the team will continue to train for a spring season.

Krista Agostinello, a junior on the Hofstra women’s soccer team, said she never thought her season would be in jeopardy when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the spring season in March.

“It’s very surreal,” said Agostinello, a West Babylon High School graduate. “I remember ending the spring, no one would have thought this would have gone into now and this would have affected our season. We looked at the seniors for lacrosse teams or baseball teams, and we were like, ‘Wow, that really stinks, that was just taken away from you.' I could never imagine that happening to us."

Both Cole and Heilbron said they are confident the fall athletes will have a chance to play in the spring.

“I am very optimistic about our chances to compete at a later date,” Heilbron said. “Making this decision now . . .  signals to the NCAA that the environment we’re in now is certainly challenging. I think we now have the benefit of time to develop plans for the winter and the spring for all of our teams.”

With Laura Amato

New York Sports