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Big West Conference postpones all fall sports through end of 2020
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Big West Conference postpones all fall sports through end of 2020

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Wells Thompson, Chris Pontius

Wake Forest's Wells Thompson, left, tries to keep UC Santa Barbara's Chris Pontius away from the ball in a semifinal round game of the NCAA Men's Division I soccer championships in 2006, at Saint Louis University in St. Louis. The Big West Conference, of which UCSB is a member of, announced Wednesday that all fall sports would be pushed back to 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Big West Conference Board of Directors have decided that all of the conference's fall sports competition will be postponed through the end of the year, according to a statement issued Wednesday.

The conference said, in making the decision, its board recognized "the continued challenges to health and safety on Big West campuses and communities impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic," according to Wednesday's statement.

The postponement of competition in conference-sponsored fall sports includes men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

Both Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara play those fall sports in the Big West. The decision by the Big West does not impact fall sports unaffiliated with the Big West Conference.

Cal Poly plays football in the Big Sky Conference, which has not stated any definite changes to its football schedule for 2020. UCSB does not have a football program. Cal Poly and UCSB are members of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for men’s and women’s swimming and diving. Cal Poly is in the Pac-12 Conference for wrestling.

The fall competitive schedules for men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis will also be postponed, as well as fall competition for sports in their non-traditional segment, such as baseball and softball.

“Although our student-athletes and our staff are disappointed, we all could see this coming weeks ago,” said Cal Poly director of athletics Don Oberhelman in a statement issued Wednesday. “We know this to be the right decision, and I think our hearts were prepared for this to happen. Now we look forward to the next steps of preparing for the spring.”

Because the COVID-19 pandemic remains very fluid, the Big West Board of Directors said a decision on whether fall sports competition would be feasible in the spring will be determined at a later date, based on conditions and circumstances that are in the best interests of the student-athletes.

The return to campus of student-athletes who compete in the Big West will be done at the discretion of each institution. On-campus athletic-related activity will follow strict compliance with NCAA regulations, institutional policies and public health guidelines.

The Big West winter sports of men’s and women’s basketball are not impacted by Wednesday’s decision. Both are currently scheduled to begin their competition seasons Nov. 10.

The conference said in Wednesday's statement that the "health and safety of Big West student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus communities continue to be the preeminent priorities for the CEOs of the conference’s 11 institutions.

"As medical and scientific data rapidly evolves surrounding the pandemic, the conference will continue to monitor developments and will consider additional actions as needed."

Cal Poly's football team, under new head coach Beau Baldwin, is scheduled to open its 2020 season Sept. 5 at ULM (formerly Louisiana-Monroe).

Jason Anderson is the Digital Producer for the Santa Maria Times. He can be reached at 805-739-2213

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