Cascade Collegiate Conference votes to delay start of fall sports

The Cascade Collegiate Conference’s Council of Presidents voted to delay the start of all conference fall sports with the hopes of competing later in the 2020-21 school year, league officials announced on Friday. In addition, all outside competition involving conference schools is suspended until at least Nov. 1 and will be re-evaluated at that time.

The decision affects women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and golf, and the start of the seasons for men’s and women’s basketball at Lewis-Clark State College. Conference officials hope the fall seasons can be held either during the winter or more likely spring.

This was not a decision taken lightly, but we, the Council of Presidents of the Cascade Collegiate Conference, believe it is in the best interest of our student-athletes, campus communities and conference,” LC State President Dr. Cynthia Pemberton said. “We will launch the semester focused on health, safety and academics and look toward resuming competitions in the spring.”

The delay of fall sports follows a national trend for college sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent rise in positive tests throughout the country.

The on-going issues with COVID-19 and the surge in cases, in particular in the geographically regions of our members schools, has made the prospect of properly conducting a fall season with the confidence we need to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes during this pandemic unrealistic,” conference commissioner Robert Cashell said.

The conference left it up to the individual schools to decide whether to conduct fall practices, weight training, conditioning and other team activities in accordance with campus, local and state policies, as well as, the NAIA approved 24-week period during the fall. Pemberton said LC will continue to monitor the ever-changing pandemic and will make a decision about practices closer to the originally scheduled start time for those seasons.

All LC State sports’ competitions have been impacted by the virus. In March, the Warrior basketball teams had their national tournaments cancelled and at the same time, all spring sports were cancelled.

Conference officials said with member schools in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia in Canada, it presented difficult challenges with how states and areas are dealing with the different phases of re-opening because of the pandemic. Also, the border between the United States and Canada remains closed to travel at this time.

We communicated with the national office that we were looking at this option for the CCC, and encouraged the NAIA to also take a hard look at doing the same,” said incoming Council of Presidents’ Chair and Bushnell University (formerly Northwest Christian University) President Dr. Joe Womack. “While we all want to have our student-athletes compete at the highest level, which is in a national tournament, we believe if we can provide a robust conference schedule and a CCC championship experience in the spring that is safer and provides more stability, we owe it to our schools to try and do so.”

The Council of Presidents, in its motion to move fall sports, said the decision gives the institutions the best opportunity to have successful campus opening in the fall and a sustained educational delivery. Officials also believe the delay provides the best opportunity to provide full seasons for fall sport student-athletes.

Cashell said he will work with athletic directors and coaches throughout the league to work on revised schedules as well as setting standard start dates for each sport.

No decisions were made regarding delaying the winter sports of men’s and women’s basketball, although LC State must alter its schedules. Both Warrior teams were scheduled to open their seasons in October.

The league will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and if necessary, winter sports could be adjusted as well.

LC State begins classes for the fall semester on Aug. 24. (Lewis-Clark State College)