As part of a collective decision by the Northwest Conference Presidents’ Council, Willamette has suspended competition in football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball this fall.
The council announced its decision today. Conference officials are working on potential schedules for those sports in the spring.
“We have been working tirelessly with a goal of returning to intercollegiate competition this fall,” said Rob Passage, director of intercollegiate athletics. “While we feel that we can create a safe environment for our students to practice, train and gather as teams within our own campus, we could not find a way for those teams to travel and compete without putting our community at risk.”
The high-contact nature of those sports played a key role in the council’s decision. Men and women will still be able to compete in tennis, golf and cross county this fall in accordance with local, state and federal health directives.
In the meantime, coaches for the football, soccer and volleyball teams are looking forward to working with team members when they return to campus in August.
“Our coaches are already hard at work coming up with plans that continue to engage our students and teams even in the absence of outside competition,” Passage said. “I think there is real potential for growth this fall as we have the opportunity to work on player development and team building without having to always focus on preparing for the next competition.”
Nevertheless, he acknowledged that this will be a challenging time for athletes who’ve dedicated countless hours to their respective sports.
“Being a former student-athlete myself and having been involved in college athletics for almost 30 years, I understand the importance of sport in the lives of our students, coaches and staff,” Passage said. “My heart aches with this announcement, but I know it is the best decision for the health and safety of our students and community.”