The Northwest Athletic Conference, which includes Clark College and Lower Columbia College in Longview, announced it will delay the start of most sports until January or February to keep athletes safe amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the conference announced Thursday.
The NWAC Executive Board approved a plan Tuesday to move the majority of fall sports to winter and spring quarters. After further discussion with member schools, the Executive Board made the decision Thursday to implement the plan.
Under the plan, men’s and women’s cross country will continued to compete in the fall on a reduced and modified schedule. The same is true for golf.
Basketball could begin restricted practices in January with games starting in February. All other sports practices would be in February.
“We have been thoughtful, comprehensive, flexible and listened to our constituents,” NWAC Executive Director Marco Azurdia said. “It is time to move forward. The plan pushed the conversations with our member college administrators thus leading to the Executive Board’s decision. We have said from the beginning that flexibility, creativity, adaptability and patience are essential to the success of our return to play.”
Cross country will be allowed to begin restricted practices on Aug. 15, with some restrictions being lifted on Aug. 29. Competition could begin on Sept. 12 with the NWAC championships held on Nov. 14.
Other fall sports like men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball would not start practices until February (soccer) or March (volleyball) with competition starting March 3 for soccer and March 27 for volleyball. Championships for both soccer and volleyball would be held in early June.
Basketball, both men’s and women’s, would start practices on Jan. 16 with games beginning on Feb. 13, heading toward championships on May 14-16.
Spring sports like baseball, softball and track and field would start practices in February, competitions starting in March with championships held in May.
The NWAC, in partnership with its sports medicine committee, has provided a comprehensive plan of health and safety protocol recommendations for member schools to implement for practice, competition and championship events.
“NWAC will continue to follow the guidance and direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and state health agencies, and member college presidents,” Azurdia said. “Should conditions dictate a change from these guidelines, we have contingencies in place that will help us address NWAC sports. As additional information becomes available, we will look to update our plans and strategies.”
The NWAC is comprised of 36 community colleges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.
Clark College announced earlier this spring that all fall-term instruction would be done online.