WIAC winter sports return to play in 2021

Devin Ulrich, Sports Editor

UW-Whitewater men’s basketball sophomore guard Will Pytleski goes for a layup contested by assistant coach Chris Hill during a team practice inside the Kachel Gymnasium. (Dane Sheehan/UW-Whitewater Athletics)

The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Council of Chancellors voted Friday Dec. 11 to resume winter sports competition for the 2020-21 season in February. The season is contingent upon ongoing COVID-19 testing. 

Sports that will resume play this winter include men’s and women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and wrestling.

“I think our events go back to how college and professional sports look like on TV right now. With benches spread out and the seats empty – the events would look something like that. The goal remains to be as safe as possible,” said Interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Ryan Callahan.

All contests will be conducted in accordance with NCAA Division III regulations, as well as institutional, state and local health and safety guidelines. The plan requires all WIAC institutions to secure testing for student-athletes, support staff and game officials in order to provide safe competition environments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategy may need to be adjusted due to the ever-changing conditions of the pandemic.

“Chris Lindeke does a great job handling the recording and color commentary of athletic events here, as he already has done that for a basketball scrimmage. So there will definitely be streaming options for athletic events,” said Steven Hillmer Director of Sports Medicine. “Though it may be difficult for some sports like track & field with so many different events going on, we still want everything to go as smoothly and safely as possible.”

Sports at UW-Whitewater have continued to practice in preparation for competition against other programs come 2021. The teams have been adhering to strict guidelines to limit interpersonal contact.

“Nobody fortunately on our team has gotten COVID yet, so we’ve already been taking a lot of protocols, and have had to go through a lot of different phases to practice together,” said women’s basketball forward Aleah Grundahl. “We just really want to play games against someone else and continue where we left off from last season.”

The conference-only schedules will begin the week of Feb. 1, 2021 and be released at a later date. All contests will be conducted in accordance with NCAA Division III regulations, as well as institutional, state and local health and safety guidelines.

“WIAC leadership, athletic directors, coaches and chancellors throughout the conference are committed to safety and the preservation of student-athletes’ experiences,” said UW-Oshkosh Chancellor and Council of Chancellors President Andy Leavitt. “We have more work to do. However, I appreciate the collaborative spirit and the determination we share as we move toward the launch of a winter sports season.”

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