Fall sports canceled for Northern, Grand Valley State, Wayne State, more Michigan universities due to virus

Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference suspends fall sports until Jan. 2021

The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) announced Wednesday that all fall sports are suspended until 2021 amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A number of Michigan universities are impacted by the conference’s suspension: Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Northwood University, Saginaw Valley State University and Wayne State University (WSU).

GLIAC officials say the council convened and unanimously voted to suspend all sports competition until Jan. 1, 2021 due to health and safety risks related to COVID-19.

“Our council of presidents and GLIAC athletic directors weighed this decision from every angle, hoping to find a feasible option for student-athletes to compete this fall, but in the end, the potential risks to student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans made fall competition impossible,” said Dr. Richard Pappas of Davenport University, who is the GLIAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors chair for 2020-21. “Plans to provide fall teams with competition opportunities during the spring semester are a priority for the league. We look forward to getting our student-athletes back on campus so they can resume training, and our members remain devoted to providing a quality student-athlete experience despite these challenging circumstances.”

Conference student athletes will still be able to practice and train under NCAA, institutional, local and state guidelines, officials said.

GLIAC expects to announce winter and spring sports competition calendars at a later date.

“I know this decision is disappointing to not just our student athletes but our coaches, staff and community who look forward each year to the excitement and spontaneity of Warrior athletics,” said WSU Director of Athletics Rob Fournier. “For many, the ‘routine’ of college athletics is a source of pride, inspiration and motivation. We will continue to build on those aspirational goals and prepare for the hopeful opportunity of the promise of each spring.

”We still have many issues to resolve going forward -- what those fall seasons look like in the winter/spring and how best to prepare for a modified calendar. However just like when our student athletes and our coaches adjusted last spring when the season was abruptly canceled, we responded with a tremendous academic semester that resulted in a 3.43 term GPA for all student athletes and the individual team ‘low’ at 3.17, this too presents a like opportunity on which we will build. Athletics is resiliency and determination…much like life. We will be ready for this challenge…and the next,” Fournier added.

Other GLIAC member schools include: Ashland University, Purdue University Northwest and the University of Wisconsin Parkside.

The conference’s decision to suspend fall sports comes after the Big Ten conference announced Tuesday that all fall sports have been postponed due to the pandemic, with hopes of playing in the spring instead.

Last week, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) became the first FBS league to cancel football.

The MAC is among the leagues hoping to play some semblance of a season in the spring, depending on the state of the pandemic. More details about that possible plan would likely come out closer to the start of the season.

Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association have all resume play, with the NHL and NBA doing so in a bubble. Both bubble leagues have had great success preventing COVID-19 cases, while MLB has seen a few outbreaks, most notably with the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.

More: Spring college football: When? How much? Who plays?

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.