Carleton College Gym. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota a member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAC) is not going to engage in winter sports competitions due to COVID-19.

The NCAA Division III school says in a news release they "made the difficult choice to cancel in-person varsity athletic competitions during the winter sports season."

The decision is in effect through March 15, 2021.

"Affected sports include the men's and women's teams in basketball, swimming & diving, indoor track & field, and tennis. The door remains open for potential virtual competitions in swimming & diving and indoor track & field, but those events would still need to adhere to Carleton, MIAC, NCAA, and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines."

"At this time, no final decision has been made regarding the status of competition for spring season sports of baseball, golf, softball, tennis, and outdoor track & field. Likewise, any potential re-scheduling of 2020 fall sports and 2021 winter sports into the spring season has not been determined."

"It breaks my heart once again having to inform our student-athletes and coaches that their season has been canceled," said Carleton Athletic Director Gerald Young. "This is the third time we've had to make this decision, and each time we did so with sadness because we know how much competition means to our student-athletes. However, the health and safety of the entire campus community is the most important thing, and this continues to be the right decision."

The news release cites a number of factors which went into the Carleton decision:

• From a public health standpoint, the current COVID-19 pandemic has not significantly improved at the local, state, or national level.
• The College desires to continue providing a residential learning experience. The efforts and sacrifices made by Carleton students, faculty, staff, and administrators leading up to and during the fall 2020 term have so far been successful in limiting the direct impact COVID-19 has had on campus. This includes curbing off-campus travel and maintaining restrictions on visitors to campus. In these areas, the College seeks to treat student-athletes the same as non-student athletes.
• The College wants to give student-athletes appropriate time to not only make decisions regarding their class schedules for winter term, but also to determine if they desire to be on campus during the upcoming months. The College intends to again limit the on-campus student population during winter term in order to best utilize campus resources (housing, dining halls, classroom space, etc.) as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and influenza season peaks.

The news release also states.

"The Carleton coaching staff concurs with this decision and will continue developing creative ways to engage with student-athletes. Teams are permitted to continue practices, skill development, and strength & conditioning activities during the winter months in accordance with NCAA, MIAC, and school guidelines.

While Carleton is the first MIAC school to cancel in-person competition for this upcoming season, the College joins many of it's academic peer institutions from across the country in deciding to avoid in-person athletic competition during the winter season."

You might recall Carleton called off fall sports before the MIAC made the decision to do so.  I'm not predicting that will happen but in our COVID-19 world it would not surprise me.