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Peach Belt Conference delays start of fall sports

The Peach Belt Conference announced Wednesday that all fall competition involving cross country, volleyball and soccer will be delayed until Oct 1. The decision does not affect men’s and women’s basketball. A decision concerning those sports will be made at a later date.

“I’m fully supportive of the decision by the PBC to delay the beginning of the Fall Sports participation season until October 1st,” Augusta University Director of Athletics Clint Bryant said. “This will allow the additional time needed in further evaluating the climate that this pandemic has presented intercollegiate athletics. This further emphasizes the tremendous amount of concern that all Peach Belt Conference members have for the well being of our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans. We will continue to monitor all aspects of COVID-19 and the role that it is playing in college athletics. We look forward to the participation of both our men’s and women’s cross country teams and volleyball, who all were NCAA participants a year ago.”

Wednesday’s unanimous decision was made by the conference’s Board of Directors, comprised of the presidents and chancellors of the league’s institutions.

“We are consistently and conscientiously evaluating recommendations and guidelines from the NCAA, CDC, our state university systems and local governments,” said USC Aiken chancellor Dr. Sandra Jordan, chair of the PBC Board of Directors. “The NCAA is recommending weekly testing and point of contact antigen testing and at this moment, those tests are not readily available. Thus, we feel that delaying the start of the season until October when we anticipate more testing options is the best course of action and will allow us to embrace best practices. We will reassess as the need arises but remain dedicated to returning our student-athletes to competition when it is reasonable to do so.”

“This was a very difficult decision for the Board to reach,” PBC commissioner David Brunk said. “They understand the desire of all student-athletes to get back on the field and play. However, unlike attending university classes, student-athletes are at greater risk because sports are high-contact in nature. Since there are still significant health and well-being concerns that exist with the COVID-19 pandemic that must take precedence at this time. The health and safety of our student-athletes is one of our fundamental responsibilities, one which we take very seriously, and those considerations have to come first.”

Over the next several weeks, the PBC will announce more information about fall schedules, fall PBC Tournaments, practice start dates and spring sports activity in their non-championship segment.

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