SWAC releases plan for fall sports, new football framework
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- On Monday July 20th the Southwestern Athletic Conference released the following statement concerning fall sports.
“The Southwestern Athletic Conference has announced the postponement of all scheduled fall contests along with SWAC championships due to continuing concerns related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The fall sports impacted include men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. The conference has started the process of formalizing plans to conduct a competitive schedule for the fall sports during the 2021 spring semester.
Specifically, in the sport of football the plan includes a seven-game conference schedule beginning with an eight-week training period in January 2021. Each member institution will play a total of six conference games (four divisional/two non-divisional) with the option to play one non-conference game.
Additional details regarding scheduling for women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country along with the Cricket Wireless SWAC Football Championship game will be released at a later date.
Fall sports teams and student-athletes will have the opportunity to attend classes and practices in preparation for a spring 2021 competitive schedule upon return to campus. Student-athletes will have the ability to participate in conditioning, strength training and practices in all sports provided all required local, state, and federal health and safety guidelines are met. There have been no final decisions made regarding competitive schedules for the league’s winter sports at this time.
The SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors felt this action was necessary out of growing concern for the health, safety and well-being both mentally and physically of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, team staff, campus faculty, fans and supporters.
The continued increase of COVID-19 cases across many portions of the league’s geographic footprint and Southern regions of the country played a significant role in the council’s decision, along with data that suggests African-American communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SWAC shares in the disappointment that will undoubtedly be felt by student-athletes, fans, and supporters impacted by the postponement of fall sports competition. The league will continue to review appropriate measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the local community which continues to be the primary responsibility of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and its member institutions.”
Southern University Athletic Director Roman Banks commented on the release from the SWAC.
“This virus, COVID-19, can still change things,” Southern University athletic director Roman Banks said. “But at least we can say there is a commitment from us (SWAC) to our student/athletes, staff and our fans. We’re telling them this is what we expect to see happen in the spring.”
With the framework for football in place, the Bayou Classic between Southern and Grambling is now a very strong possibility. Whether or not the iconic showdown is played in New Orleans is up to the city and the parties involved.
“Obviously, it will not be the Bayou Classic we are used to because of the virus and other factors,” Banks stated. “It is a division game that we will schedule. New Orleans will have the right of refusal. We would love to play it in New Orleans, if that can be worked out. If that does not work out, we’ll come up with another plan.”