In light of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northeast Conference Council of Presidents announced a series of shared guiding principles and recommendations as part of the NEC Fall Sports Return to Play Plan. These recommendations were developed in conjunction with NEC athletic administrators and the NEC COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee.
Overarching Guiding Principles for Resumption:
- The health and safety of our campus and conference community is paramount
- Decision-making around the resumption of athletics will be informed by campus policies; local, state and national governmental guidance/policies; and NEC and NCAA guidance/policies
- Each athletics department must adhere to its campus policies and protocols
Return to play decisions are also being guided by the NEC's commitment to preserve and sustain the student-athlete experience as a core endeavor of the institutional educational mission, while at the same time establishing return-to-play models that allow for student-athlete physical and mental re-acclimatization.
Acknowledging the need for flexibility, the following recommendations will be reevaluated by the Presidents in the coming weeks, during which the conference will actively monitor rapidly evolving health crisis data, along with updated guidance from the federal, state, local and campus levels.
NEC Fall Sports Return to Play Plan as of now:
- A start date of September 10 has been set for both conference and non-conference competition; football programs are permitted to play non-conference games prior to September 10 as per institutional discretion
- Associate members will defer to full member conference regulations
- NEC institutions will confirm non-conference opponents have instituted similar health and safety protocols prior to competition
- Overnight travel will be reduced when possible
"With the health and safety of our campus and athletic communities at the forefront, the NEC Presidents are utilizing a set of guiding principles to assist in their decision-making around the resumption of sports this fall," said NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris. "With so many unknown factors at this point in time, the NEC has elected to delay the start of competition and take advantage of the extra time to continue to evaluate the local, regional and national landscape relative to COVID-19. The Presidents will reconvene in a few weeks to chart the course moving forward."
Additionally, the NEC COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee, comprised of campus medical professionals and administrators, continues to develop policies and protocols to support a safe return to play progression, and to mitigate the spread and transmission of COVID-19. These guidelines will include a phased in approach to conditioning and practice activities, detailed game day health checklists and best practices, and facility/venue expectations related to cleanliness, access, equipment needs and traffic.
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About The Northeast Conference
Beginning its 40th anniversary season, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout seven states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to a number of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Boston (#9), Baltimore (#26), Hartford/New Haven (#33) and Providence (#53). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 24 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 16 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU, Merrimack, Mount St. Mary's, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league's official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, all @NECsports.