Conference Carolinas officials announced last week that the men’s and women’s basketball seasons will tip off in mid-January 2021.
The board of directors felt the decision was in the best interest of student-athletes, coaches and administrators at member institutions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Teams officially return to campus Dec. 28.
Although the conference’s athletic directors have not finalized a schedule, league play cannot start until Jan. 13.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and our men’s and women’s basketball coaching staffs continues to be our top priority,” said Chris Colvin, commissioner of Conference Carolinas.
“This decision, like all of our decisions over the last few months, was challenging, but we feel it is also the right decision to continue to give all of our member institutions the best chance to have a truly successful conference basketball campaign.”
University of Mount Olive student-athletes returned to in-person instruction Oct. 5 after a two-week pause due to an increase of coronavirus cases on campus. Classes were conducted online and students remained in their dorms to alleviate any further infection.
Athletic teams continued to practice and exercised team protocols due to COVID-19.
When they’ll actually take the court and fields remains in question since basketball and wrestling seasons have been delayed, and all fall sports were pushed to the spring.
UMO officials expect spring sports to start on time.
However, they have to account for the length of a season because playing fall and spring sports simultaneously could drain the university’s facilities and resources.
A total of 12 teams share two facilities — Kornegay Arena and the Ray McDonald Sr. Track and Field/Lacrosse Complex. Juggling schedules at both venues is a quandary, even if teams play a conference-only slate.
“It will be tricky,” said Dr. Dan Sullivan, senior vice president for student affairs and athletics at UMO.
“However, we are all in this together, because all colleges and universities across the nation are dealing with the same issue.”
The eight-team conference basketball tournaments begin March 2.
Quarterfinal-, semifinal- and final-round play will be contested March 5-7 at Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
“We are excited to see our teams back on the court in January competing and preparing for what we know will be another tremendous basketball championship,” Colvin said.