COVID-19 impacts UW-W athletic events, National championships canceled

Ethan Maurice, Sports Editor

With the recent outbreak of Coronavirus or COVID-19, many facets of campus life have been affected. While dates for exams and classes can be moved around without much disruption, the athletic program and schedules at Whitewater have been disrupted severely.

On Thursday March 12, the NCAA announced that National Championship events for winter and spring sports were canceled for all divisions including Division III in response to the virus.

This decision by the NCAA left many Whitewater winter sports teams including indoor track and field, wrestling, swimming,  and gymnastics at tournament locations without tournaments to compete in. This effectively ended their seasons before they could finish runs at national titles which some teams and athletes were poised to have a real shot at winning.

Wrestlers Hazen Rice, Jarrit Shinholster and Devin Tortorice were fierce competitors and prospective favorites to watch in the battle to win Division III national titles in their weight classes.

For others like the No. 5 ranked Men’s Track and Field team, the cancelation of their tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina took away their chance at a team or individual titles just when they were reaching their peak performance.

On top of teams missing out on tournaments and competitions, many seniors’ athletics careers were in danger of being cut short as university athletic programs and conferences around the country decide what to do. This danger was avoided as the NCAA announced on Friday, March 13 that seniors who played spring sports will gain another year of eligibility along with an announcement that they are discussing giving winter athletes the same ability.

While the NCAA has canceled championships for the rest of the school year, many athletic conferences including the WIAC will be meeting to determine whether spring conference championships should still occur, either with no spectators or at all.

If the conference decides to continue on with the spring championships, it will change the shape of the season for many teams.

The main issue for Whitewater athletics looking forward is the matter of traveling to matches, games, meets and other competitions. In Chancellor Watson’s announcement on Thursday, March 12 he stated that all non-essential university travel would be canceled unless a waiver was received, which could impact athletics.