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Southland Conference postpones fall sports competition due to COVID-19

The statement did say that "institutions may choose to participate in limited fall competition."

BEAUMONT, Texas — The Southland Conference has announced that all fall sports competition will be postponed but schools may "participate in limited fall competition."

In a statement released Thursday morning the conference announced that football, volleyball, women’s soccer and cross country will be postponed for the fall.

The conference intends to "explore" having competition resume in the spring semester according to the statement.

The statement did say that "institutions may choose to participate in limited fall competition."

Planning for spring championship events in volleyball, soccer and cross country has been authorized the statement said.

“After thoughtful consideration, the Southland Conference Board of Directors reached consensus in postponing league competition for our fall semester sports,” Dr. Houston Davis, Board Chair and President of the University of Central Arkansas was quoted as saying in the statement.

The Lamar University athletics department released a statement saying they would be exploring possible limited competition in a "safe-environment."

The university will now be focusing on the safe- return of all sports in the spring semester according to the statement.

"While LU supports this decision, there is a profound sadness and disappointment for our fall sports student-athletes, coaches and staff. We understand just how much our coaches and student-athletes wanted to resume competition this fall. Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and athletic support staff", the statement said in part.

On Tuesday Lamar University paused their football camp for a second time after announcing a rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases.

RELATED: Lamar pauses camp a second time

Thirty five recent coronavirus cases in Jefferson County can be attributed to the Lamar athletics department according to Jefferson County Judge Jeff Brannick.

A source at the university told 12News that all but three of the positive cases are asymptomatic.

Lamar's football camp was initially scheduled to start on August 6 but it was paused due to the pandemic before practice ever officially started.

From a Lamar University statement...

"Today the Southland Conference announced that all fall conference competition will be postponed. While LU supports this decision, there is a profound sadness and disappointment for our fall sports student-athletes, coaches and staff. We understand just how much our coaches and student-athletes wanted to resume competition this fall. Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and athletic support staff. These are completely unique and unprecedented times. Regardless, as a LU family, we will continue to serve, support and prioritize our student-athletes in all we do and we are committed to a safe return to competition for all our varsity sports. We look forward to working with our colleagues and exploring fall sport competitions occurring later in the academic year. Our focus now will be on the continued support of our student-athletes' academic success, physical and mental health and overall well-being."

Despite the announcement to postpone until the spring, the Southland made available the opportunity for institutions to compete in limited fall competitions. LU plans to continue exploring those opportunities in a safe environment.

With fall competition postponed, LU's primary focus will be working out the details for a safe return to competition for all sports during the spring semester.

"I want to assure our student-athletes, coaches and the entire fan base, that this is not a decision that was taken lightly. We understand that this is heartbreaking for many who have worked so hard to bring LU athletics back to Southeast Texas and the Golden Triangle. I want to assure everyone, that we are committed to the safe return of all sports to the LU campus. In the coming days and weeks, we will be putting together a plan for the safe return to competition. We look forward to having our fans back on campus supporting our student-athletes. We will return to competition, and we will do so in a way that is safe for everyone. I can't wait for the day to celebrate the success of our student-athletes with our great LU supporters. Our quest to be champions in the classroom, champions on the field and court and champions in life has never been more important than now and I hope all of our alumni and fans will join me in that support. We need you now more than ever. Go Cards!" 

Statement from the Southland Conference...

The Southland Conference Board of Directors has determined that league competition in the sports of football, volleyball, women’s soccer and cross country will be postponed from the fall semester with an intent to explore conference competition in the spring semester. Meeting frequently in recent weeks, including Wednesday afternoon, presidents of the 13 Southland members also authorized planning for spring semester championship events for volleyball, soccer and cross country.

Institutions may choose to participate in limited fall competition.

“After thoughtful consideration, the Southland Conference Board of Directors reached consensus in postponing league competition for our fall semester sports,” Dr. Houston Davis, Board Chair and President of the University of Central Arkansas, said. “Protecting competitive opportunities in a safe manner for our student-athletes was paramount in the review, and a delay to the spring allows campuses and athletic departments to get a better handle on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The Board concluded that an entire fall sports season is not likely, and that a postponement to spring can provide the important opportunities our teams annually seek,” Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett added. “While disappointed that we won’t be playing these sports in the Southland’s 58th year of fall competition, we look forward to a unique spring season of athletics that also includes NCAA postseason opportunities.”

It is expected that Southland athletic directors will immediately begin work with the Southland staff to determine spring competitive planning and other issues. 

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