WIAC suspends winter sports

Winter sports suspended until the end of the year


Dane Sheehan

UW-Whitewater Men’s Basketball plays UW-La Crosse Jan. 15 2020. This year’s winter sports are delayed to begin until Jan. 1.

Ben Yang, Journalist

The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference sent out a statement announcing the suspension of all winter sports competitions until the end of 2020. The suspension of winter sports comes after a careful evaluation of COVID-19 risks and safety protocols with hopes of resuming January 1.

“I think we’re in a place where our numbers in COVID-19 cases aren’t necessarily where we want them to be and the safety of students overall is paramount. Suspending the winter sports is the best thing we can do. It gives us more time to get some more planning and hopefully give the kids and coaches a meaningful experience,” said UW-W Interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Ryan Callahan.

The sports that are included in the suspension are men’s and women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and wrestling. In place of winter sports for the first half of the season, the athletic department hopes to continue having students work out in smaller groups and attend practices to substitute for games, matches and competitions.

“Ultimately the WIAC’s first concern is the health and safety of all students on campus, and also the student athlete staff and the coaches that work with those student athletes. Right now, with the number of positive cases and testing inadequacies for all campuses to thoroughly test student athletes, I don’t think it was appropriate at this time to put our campuses in an even greater risk dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steve Hillmer,UW-W director of sports medicine.

With the suspension of winter sports until the end of this year, the campus may experience the absence of the sports atmosphere that is provided by the familiar winter sport competitions. While winter sports are suspended for the remainder of the year, the announcement of the suspension gives winter sport coaches time to reschedule and plan what the season will look like for the other half of the winter sport season.

“Everyone has to plan and prepare. I think with moving it to January 1st, at least we’re not going to be preparing for games in November and December. So that changes our preparation a little bit, but at least it gives us an advanced warning,” said Pat Miller, head coach of the men’s basketball team.

In the midst of the uncertainty and unpredictability of the winter sports season, coach Miller has hopes that there will still be a chance that winter sports will be able to compete and continue after the end of this year.

“I think it’s possible that after January 1st we play a conference schedule and have a national tournament. It’s a possibility that we would play some type of limited schedule and not have an NCAA tournament,” Miller said. “A lot just depends on what’s going to happen in November and December.”