A number of Long Island University’s fall sports programs saw weeks pared from their schedules on Thursday as the Northeast Conference announced that its members will not compete in intercollegiate athletics before Sept. 10 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference is, however, making an allowance that would permit football programs that have non-conference games on the weekend of Sept. 5 to still play those games; so the Sharks might still be able to play their season opener at Montana State.
“With so many unknown factors at this point in time, the NEC has elected to delay the start of competition and take advantage of the extra time to continue to evaluate the local, regional and national landscape relative to COVID-19,” Northeast commissioner Noreen Morris said. “The Presidents will reconvene in a few weeks to chart the course moving forward.”
The move wipes out three weeks of women’s soccer and field hockey and two weeks of men’s soccer and women’s volleyball.
The Sharks’ Sept. 5 game in Bozeman, Montana, is one of four non-conference football games that the NEC is leaving to the discretion of the schools. The game is important to LIU because Montana State is paying a financial guarantee – significant in a moment when athletic departments are dropping sports for economic reasons – but it will require a flight and a hotel stay. The school administration will evaluate whether to play in Montana, which ranks among the five states with the fewest coronavirus cases but where the numbers are rising.
The NEC will use a phase-in approach as it brings athletes back to campus to begin training and, later, competition in the fall season.