The Northwest Athletic Conference – an association of junior colleges in Washington, North Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia – announced Thursday that it will push most fall and winter sports to the spring semester due to coronavirus concerns.
Thirty-six member schools comprise the NWAC, including Community Colleges of Spokane and North Idaho College.
Golf and cross country will continue this fall due to the socially distant nature of the sports.
Most of the Sasquatch and Cardinals’ rosters feature Eastern Washington and North Idaho high school products.
“We have been thoughtful, comprehensive, flexible, and listened to our constituents. It is time to move forward,” NWAC executive director Marco Azurdia said. “The plan pushed the conversations with our member college administrators thus leading to the Executive Board’s decision.
“We have said from the beginning that flexibility, creativity, adaptability, and patience are essential to the success of our return to play.”
Two weeks after the National Junior College Athletic Association released its initial changes for the 2020-21 school year – NIC wrestling is an NJCAA member and will now begin its season in January – the NWAC announced its postponements.
The NJCAA, NWAC and California Community College Athletic Association are the country’s three junior college athletics governing bodies. Some CCCAA leagues have also announced fall postponements and cancellations.
Community Colleges of Spokane offers men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field, softball and baseball.
North Idaho College offers men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and softball.
Volleyball is now slated to begin Feb. 27 in the league’s “red phase” – the earliest possible return – with the NWAC championships taking place June 4-6. CC Spokane won the previous two NWAC Tournament titles.
Soccer will begin Feb. 3 with championships scheduled for June 4-6, and men’s and women’s basketball will begin Jan. 16 with championships slated for May 14-16.
Championship sites have yet to be determined.
North Idaho’s men’s basketball team has won 51 straight games against NWAC opponents, and the CC Spokane men have also been one of the NWAC’s premier teams.
The 2020 NWAC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were cut short in March at the onset of the pandemic.
Spokane head women’s basketball coach and sports information director Ryan Bodecker – formerly the acting athletic director before the recent hire of Jim Fitzgerald – said Thursday’s announcement was both good and bad news.
“I’m thankful that they’re trying to get in a season,” Bodecker said. “There’s just so many different scenarios, and you want some positive things to tell the athletes.”
Messages to NIC athletic director Bobby Lee were not immediately returned.
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