OVC postpones fall sports, EIU will not pursue non-conference football games despite opportunity to play


Eastern Illinois will not play in the Mid-America Classic against Illinois St. this fall

WCIA — The Ohio Valley Conference is postponing all fall sports. The OVC Board of Presidents met Thursday night to discuss future plans and continued talks on Friday before making the decision, in hopes of moving fall sports to the spring. Football, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball will not compete due to COVID-19 concerns.

“After careful deliberation, weighing all the factors as presented, and given the current uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the OVC Board of Presidents voted to postpone the Conference’s fall sports to the spring, said Beth DeBauche, OVC Commissioner.  With the focus on student-athletes, the Conference leaders made this value-based decision with a commitment to continue to monitor the evolving situation and to strive to establish meaningful competitive opportunities in the spring for our fall sport student-athletes.

“While we understand there are many student-athletes, families, and communities that are disappointed by the lack of Conference competition this fall, and we deeply share that disappointment; it is the OVC’s ardent intention to ensure seasons postponed are not seasons canceled if the facts support it.  I want to thank our student-athletes and coaches for their resilience during these trying times, our staff and administrators for all their hard work and planning over the past five months, and the presidents and chancellors for their strong and principled leadership over this outstanding Conference.”

The league is allowing teams to play up to four non-conference games, but Eastern Illinois administrators decided not to pursue playing games this fall. The Panthers game against Illinois State in the Mid-America Classic on Sept. 12 will not be played, it would have been the 109th meeting between the two schools. The last time it wasn’t played was back in 2001, following 9/11. Just like the OVC, the Missouri Valley Football Conference is also allowing teams to play non-conference games, but EIU decided not to suit up this fall.

The Panthers will also not field teams in volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis.

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