The Big West Conference announced on Dec. 10 that all Fall sports are canceled for the school year of 2020-2021. 

Cal Poly sports affected by the announcement include Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Women’s Volleyball. 

The decision does not affect Fall sports unaffiliated with the Big West Conference. Cal Poly Football, which is affiliated with the Big Sky Conference, is still planning on having a season, with a six-game Spring schedule being already released back in November. 

The Big West previously announced that Fall sports were to be postponed through the end of the year, with a possibility of competition in the Spring. Upon a review of the pandemic situation, that is no longer feasible in the eyes of the Conference Board of Directors, they said. 

The decision, which came unanimously from the 11 member schools of the conference, was made due to the fact that the process to conduct Fall sports safely in unison with Winter and Spring sports would not be in the best interest of coaches and student-athletes, according to Big West Commissioner Dan Butterly.

“Protecting the health and safety of our student-athletes and following public health guidelines are our top priorities,” Butterly wrote in the press release. 

Looking forward, as the basketball season proceeds as planned, the Big West will look to how successful Men’s and Women’s Basketball is conducted to determine how to move forward with traditional Spring sports. A decision for Spring sports is expected by late January 2021, according to the press release.

“I was expecting this decision, but I didn’t think they’d cancel [the season] this soon,” Cal Poly Athletic Director Don Oberhelman said. “I was hoping they could give it more time, but it makes sense.”

“San Luis Obispo is quite different than most of the other communities in the conference, there are cities with much worse conditions right now so the decision has to be one that makes sense for all of the schools,” Oberhelman said. 

When reflecting on the everchanging college athletics landscape due to COVID-19, Oberhelman said he has sympathy for the student-athletes at Cal Poly.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am this has happened to our fall sports,” Oberhelman said. “Every season has had to suffer in the pandemic. Winter sports having playoffs canceled, Spring sports not getting to really compete at all, and now the Fall. No one wants to miss opportunities like these.”

Looking forward to the rest of the school year, ensuring Spring sports continue as planned is a priority to Oberhelman.

“It would be unfair to our Spring athletes to have two years of their sport be taken away from them, I am looking forward to them playing in 2021,” Oberhelman said.

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