CORVALLIS — Eastern Oregon University’s athletic conference announced in press releases this week that it will forego wrestling championships and postpone the start of basketball season until at least March.
The Cascade Collegiate Conference announced the changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused multiple schools in the conference to opt out of participating in the basketball season already.
“With three schools opting out and the Oregon schools, still not being able to practice or play due to state health authority regulations, the very difficult decision was made to move the basketball season to March and April,” stated CCC Commissioner Robert Cashell. “The decision was made with the hope that COVID-19 cases will subside, the vaccine will have become widely available and restrictions loosened.”
Walla Walla University, Evergreen State College and Southern Oregon University all backed out of the basketball season. The three schools represent one fourth of the CCC’s teams.
The pandemic also was a driving factor in the CCC’s decision to forego wrestling championships in 2021.
“With our large wrestling footprint covering Arizona, California, Oregon and Montana, the prospect of successfully getting all teams to tournaments during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is surging seemed very unrealistic and not in the best interests of health and safety,” Cashell said in a press release.
The CCC still will have the opportunity to send some men’s wrestlers to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championships in Kansas. The conference was allotted 46 spots at the championships, though that allotment is expected to drop since Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University dropped out of the season.
The NAIA will hold an invitational championship for women’s wrestling in North Dakota. Both championships are scheduled to take place in the month of March barring further complications.
The Oregon Health Authority continues to ban high-contact sports due to the risk of spreading COVID-19.
With the pandemic far from over, sports at every level are likely far from a return to normal play.