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NEW BRITAIN - The Central Connecticut State football team won’t get a chance to defend its Northeast Conference title. Neither will the school’s women’s soccer or cross country teams.
None of CCSU’s fall sports programs - which also includes men’s soccer and cross country, and women’s volleyball - will take the field or the court this fall.
The NEC announced on Wednesday it was postponing all fall sports and championships due to the coronavirus pandemic. The conference’s Council of Presidents will then reconvene by October 1 to evaluate the public health crisis and the NEC’s competitive options.
“While this decision was exceedingly difficult and will be incredibly heartbreaking for our NEC student-athletes, coaches and administrators, the NEC Council of Presidents focused on the importance of the health and safety and well-being of our entire campus communities,” NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris said in a statement. “This pandemic has challenged us all in ways we could never have imagined, and I applaud our student-athletes and coaches for handling this difficult time with grace and courage. We are committed to providing all of our student-athletes with meaningful practice and training activities this fall and look forward to reconvening our Presidents by October 1 to discuss future competitive opportunities.”
The NEC is the fifth Division I conference to suspend fall sports, joining the Colonial Athletic Association, Ivy League, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Patriot League and Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Pioneer Football League have moved to conference-only competition.
On July 9, the NEC had initially set a start date of Sept. 10 for both conference and non-conference competition with football programs being permitted to play non-conference games prior to Sept. 10 based on institutional discretion. But in order to play those non-conference games, NEC institutions originally had to confirm non-conference opponents have instituted similar health and safety protocols prior to competition. Associate members -the conference has three for the fall: Duquesne (football & women's bowling), Fairfield (field hockey), Rider (field hockey) - also had to defer to full member conference regulations. Overnight travel had to be reduced when possible as well.
CCSU’s football team went a school-record 11-2 in 2019 and won the conference title for the second time in three seasons. It’s only losses were to Division I FBS-member Eastern Michigan and Albany in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
The women’s soccer team 13-5-4 with a 1-0 win over Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the program’s second-ever victory in the tournament. The Blue Devils then lost to West Virginia in the next round, 1-0, in double overtime. CCSU was coming off back-to-back NEC championships after beating Fairleigh Dickinson in the conference title game.
Women’s cross country captured its second straight NEC championship last fall and had four finishers in the top 14. Junior Angie Rafter was named the 2019 NEC Most Outstanding Performer for the second time, while rookie Brooke Morabito was named the 2019 NEC Freshman of the Year.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org