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North Atlantic Conference cancels conference play for fall sports

Five Maine colleges and universities are affected by the decision: Thomas College, UMF, Husson University, MMA, and UMPI.
Credit: NAC

WATERVILLE, Maine — The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) announced its decision for the fall sports season on Monday, saying there will be no conference contests or championships in any fall sport this coming semester “in the best interest of student athletes, staff, and campus communities.”

The NAC is comprised of 11 colleges and universities in New England, including five in Maine. The athletic teams at Thomas College, University of Maine at Farmington (UMF), Husson University, Maine Maritime Academy (MMA), and University of Maine at Presque-Isle (UMPI) are all affected by the conference decision.

Fall sports in the NAC include men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, women's tennis, men's golf, and women's volleyball.

"This is a difficult day for NAC students, coaches and staff," NAC Commissioner Marcella Zalot said. "I want to thank the athletics administrators and leadership at each institution for their efforts to try and play a NAC fall season. What we wished we could do and ultimately what we are able to do are just in two different places right now.  I look forward to the day when the resilience and perseverance of this generation of students prevails and they are rewarded with the thrill and camaraderie of NAC competition."

RELATED: UMaine announces postponement, not cancellation, of fall sports

The NAC says each school may choose to safely conduct athletics at their own discretion. Activities are not limited by the conference, and may include practices, strength and conditioning, inter-squad events, and intercollegiate contests where safe to do so. The NAC says they will continue to explore the practicality of conducting fall sport activities in the spring semester if that becomes an option.

Thomas College Director of Athletics Cameron Creamer said, “While disappointing, I pledge to our athletes that Thomas College will create a meaningful and exciting modified athletics season for fall 2020.”

Creamer said Thomas College has invested in rigorous COVID-19 testing which opens the door for athletic opportunities that includes:

  • A new pre-season return date (to be announced shortly) - to begin building team culture
  • Robust strength and conditioning, team training, individual technical training
  • Up to the maximum allowed competitions with colleges and universities with similar testing regimens 
  • Leadership and mental toughness programs
  • Leveraging outdoor campus facilities (including a full 5k trail system) and resources to create new wellness and recreational opportunities for the entire College community
  • Leveraging community partnerships with local businesses and organizations to expand athletic and recreational opportunities

Division III recently announced that eligible student athletes whose teams compete in 50% or less of the sport's maximum contests or dates of competition during the upcoming year will not be charged with a season of participation.

Similarly, eligible student athletes who don't compete, or compete in a limited fashion, will not be charged with semesters of enrollment. Student athletes may practice and compete this coming year without compromising a year of eligibility, NAC says.

The NAC says a decision regarding winter or spring sports hasn’t been made yet.

RELATED: NCAA releases COVID-19 guidance, but prospects of playing look grim

RELATED: More New England fall sports seasons canceled

RELATED: NESCAC cancels fall sports