USA South, Berea cancel fall sports

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BEREA, Ky. (WTVQ) – USA South, the athletic conference in which Berea College competes, has announced the postponement of fall athletics.

Citing the health and safety of coaches, trainers, athletics staff and more than 4,000 student-athletes as the top priority, the Presidents of the USA South Athletic Conference voted unanimously to postpone all conference competition until the spring 2021 semester.

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Several factors contributed to the decision, including the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases throughout the USA South’s geographical footprint, as well as the availability, cost and feasibility of adequate and consistent testing for student-athletes.

The sports impacted at Berea are men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. No decision has been made regarding men’s and women’s basketball.

“The health and safety of our athletics staff and student-athletes is paramount,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “These are challenging times for our country. This decision was a difficult but necessary one to ensure that we do our part to keep our campus communities healthy during this global pandemic.”

“The presidents of the schools throughout our conference had a very difficult decision to make regarding fall sports,” said Berea College Athletics Director Ryan Hess. “While disappointed for our athletes and coaches, we all understand the importance of prioritizing the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, trainers and event staff. Our teams will be ready to compete when it’s safe for them to do so but, in the meantime, we’ll continue to support the academic pursuits of our student-athletes.”

“While our member institutions maintain the freedom to address athletics as they see best on their individual campuses this fall, the NCAA recommendations especially related to testing that came out recently were a real game changer for our 18 conference schools collectively,” detailed Dr. Tom Hart, USA South Commissioner. “We will begin work immediately to develop a strategic plan that allows for fall conference sports competition to return in some capacity in the spring, provided public health conditions improve in the coming months.”