Sports at Central Maine Community College and the other schools in the Maine Community College System have been put on hold until at least January 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CMCC’s Alyssa Everett, right, drives to the basket for a layup against Bryant & Stratton’s Kori Hardee in November. Winter sports, such as basketball and hockey, will also be affected by the schools announcement that sports will not be played until at least January 2021. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

CMCC, along with Eastern Maine Community College, Kennebec Valley Community College, Northern Maine Community College, Southern Maine Community College, Washington County Community College and York County Community College, are postponing sports until the new year as part of the framework for fall instruction for community colleges in the state. That framework, which CMCC revealed Thursday, includes limiting the amount of students who can be on campus.

The decision to suspend athletics was not an easy one for CMCC vice president Betsy Libby.

“Athletics is a big part of Central Maine Community College, and we have championship athletic teams that have won national championships,” Libby said. “A lot of students come to our college for athletics. That was an extremely difficult decision.”

The school offers baseball, softball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball in the fall.

“Fall athletics are suspended, and we hope in January we can offer the fall sports as well as the spring sports in some capacity,” Libby said. “That can certainly change on the nature of the virus. That was a huge decision to (postpone sports) because students choose to come to us because we have athletics. If we aren’t offering their athletic program, they might no longer want to enroll with us. Athletics is a huge part of our students’ lives. That was an extremely difficult decision to make.”

Baseball and softball usually play a split season schedule, with games in September and October and then a spring slate in March and April.

Winter sports will also be affected by the postponement. CMCC’s men’s and women’s basketball teams start their seasons in October. Last year, the men played 18 games prior to Jan. 1. The women’s team, which won the 2019 and 2017 United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championships and went to the national championship game in 2020, played 16 games prior to the new year last season.

The men’s hockey team, which recently joined the New England College Hockey Association, played the bulk of this past season’s schedule in October, November and December.

CMCC said in a news release that it is looking to develop policies that will allow coaches to engage with their teams in settings such as individual and small group workouts, advising and academic support.

CMCC is working with in conjunction with the Yankee Small College Conference (YSCC) and the USCAA to develop plans for the return of athletics, in an effort to provide opportunities for students to continue to compete while meeting school policies and federal, state, and local health directives.

The school is working with the YSCC to develop scheduling option that allow for competition to exist in the spring semester. Non-conference scheduling is being examined to determine availability and options. The athletic department is also working with the USCAA on the parameters of athletic eligibility in the shortened season.

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