Utica, N.Y. - After months of delays, the SUNY Poly men's and women's basketball teams learned the fate of its season, at least in terms of conference play, Tuesday.
The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) announced that it has canceled conference play for the 2020-21 basketball season.
This comes after the NAC Presidents' Council determined it "not feasible to conduct a NAC regular or postseason basketball schedule" amid the current state of the pandemic.
In the fall, the NAC announced its intention to begin conference basketball games on January 29. However, conditions of the pandemic have not improved as the Presidents' Council had hoped it would by this time.
SUNY Poly joined the NAC this past July after 11 years competing in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC). This was to be Wildcats teams' first academic year in the conference.
"As the pandemic rages on it does not make sense to put anyone on our campus at risk this winter," Said SUNY Poly Athletic Director Kevin Grimmer. "We remain entirely sympathetic to our student-athletes, coaches, and staff for having to forgo their first foray into NAC basketball, but we look forward to better times soon and the return of all Wildcat sports."
In the current makeup of the NAC, member schools are present across three states: Maine, New York and Vermont.
Travel between the various states, in some cases requiring four states to be traversed (with New Hampshire between Vermont and Maine), was a concern.
Despite not hosting conference competition, the NAC will permit member schools to schedule its own non-conference games this winter should they choose.
SUNY Poly plans to explore this option.
"While the NAC schedule has been canceled, we are still looking to keep the door open for non-conference competition," said SUNY Poly Sports Information Director (and Head Baseball Coach) Patrick Baker, in a statement to NEWSChannel 2. "We will have to be creative, but our hope is to salvage what we can of the 2020-21 season for our student-athletes and our fans."
Regardless of the outcome, all Wildcats student-athletes this academic year are able to receive an extra year of eligibility, should they choose, through a blanket waiver previously approved through NCAA Division III.
As of now, all NAC spring sports and championships remain as originally scheduled, but contingency plans are being developed should they be necessary.
For the full statement on the decision from the conference, click here.