The Midwest Conference (MWC) Presidents Council announced today that it will not sponsor league competition, including championships, for fall and winter sports during the 2020-2021 academic year. The decision was unanimous and covers men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, and volleyball.
This announcement follows a previous decision in July to suspend conference play through December 31, 2020.
Over the past several months, the Conference has closely monitored the evolving COVID-19 situation, as well as its impact on member campuses, local communities, and the Midwest region, with the hope of resuming safe competition for its student-athletes. The recent surge in positive cases, both regionally and nationally, the resulting impact on academic calendars, and the continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic are all factors in the decision not to play a winter athletic schedule.
“This is a very disappointing day for our fall and winter sport student-athletes, but they should not be without hope. As we did in the fall, we will keep moving forward to reimagine athletics seasons to ensure our student-athletes have the most robust experience possible this year," said Director of Athletics Daniella Irle. “Our teams have many training dates remaining this spring, and we will refocus our efforts on improving our programs throughout the winter and spring terms so that we are ready to compete next fall. Also, we will consider limited competition opportunities for fall and winter sports at a later date as we know that competing is the core of what we do as athletes. I am confident that our Prairie Fire student-athletes and coaches will continue to adapt and adjust as we navigate the COVID-19 landscape together, keeping in mind that the health and well-being of our student-athletes is our number one priority.”
The Midwest Conference remains focused on providing meaningful athletics experiences for all student-athletes in 2020–2021. Member institutions are committed to providing engaging and significant team experiences for their student-athletes. Engagement in limited non-conference competition remains at the discretion of individual institutions, and Knox will explore this possibility. This will be done in accordance with MWC, institutional, and applicable state and local regulations and other guidance in mind.
“The pandemic continues to challenge us in every way possible, and especially now, I encourage our Prairie Fire student-athletes to use the endurance, strength, and resilience they have honed over the years to continue to practice and study, and focus on a bright future,” said Teresa Amott, president of Knox College. “Now is the time to nurture the Prairie Fire spirit and stay healthy and strong.”
The Prairie Fire Athletics department will continue to provide athletics-centric training to fall and winter student-athletes when they return to campus. These experiences could include non-conference competition or scrimmages, practice, small group training, skill development, life skills development, leadership training, nutrition for athletes education, and/or strength and conditioning within safety guidelines. To this end, Knox will continue to use the guidelines established by the MWC. Guidelines include a phased approach to practice activities that allow for interaction among student-athletes and coaches. This will begin with small group workouts and build to larger group practice sessions as conditions permit.
The Midwest Conference continues to work diligently toward a spring season for baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s outdoor track & field. The Conference’s COVID-19 Working Group has developed return-to-play guidance that aligns with the most current NCAA Sport Science Institute’s Resocialization and Acclimatization recommendations, including elements such as testing, positive COVID-19 case response and environmental adjustments to reduce the risk of transmission.
The men’s and women’s golf programs compete in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). At this time, the SLIAC is committed to pursuing competition in the spring.
Fall and winter student-athletes will receive more detailed information from the Director of Athletics and head coaches in the weeks ahead.