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By Jillian Riches

Nichols Winter Sports to Return to Play in February


January 21, 2021

DUDLEY, Mass. – Nichols College Director of Athletics Eric Gobiel, in conjunction with college President Susan Engelkemeyer, has announced that several winter sports programs – men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s hockey – will be allowed to begin intercollegiate competition next month.

The announcement comes on the heels of a statement released by the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) that the Board of Directors has voted to cancel conference competition for winter sports for the 2020-21 season. This cancelation of CCC conference competition applies only to contests scheduled by the league office – including conference championships. Each institution maintains autonomy to compete independently, including contests against other conference schools that choose to play. This position applies to both winter sports and any others in the 2020-21 season that had been previously canceled (fall sports).

“I am excited to announce that we will allow our winter programs to compete during spring semester, along with ALL (fall and spring) of our other athletic programs,” said Gobiel. “Last semester, our student-athletes worked hard and followed all of the safety protocols required of them to help create a return-to-play scenario, and I am so happy that we at Nichols College are able to provide them the opportunity to resume their collegiate careers.

“While we are excited to take this step, the health and safety of our staff and students has and will remain our top priority. We must and will proceed cautiously,” explained Gobiel. “COVID-19 is an everchanging situation and we will continue to monitor all necessary areas and adjust plans as needed. We plan to be extremely diligent and adhere to our health/safety protocols, as well as the Massachusetts state guidelines.”

The decision by the CCC – which affects men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s ice hockey – was made following months of discussions by conference leadership, including presidents and athletic directors, regarding how to return to play safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout these discussions, ensuring the health and safety of not only our student-athletes, but everyone in our campus communities and mitigating the spread of the virus, remained the principal objectives. Given current infection rates and the state regulations regarding interstate travel, the Board came to the conclusion that a CCC winter sports schedule was not feasible.

“While we are excited to take this step, we must and will proceed cautiously,” explained Gobiel. “COVID-19 is an everchanging situation and we will continue to monitor all necessary areas and adjust plans as needed. We plan to be extremely diligent and adhere to our health/safety protocols, as well as the Massachusetts state guidelines.”

At this time, it is the Conference’s intent to sponsor CCC competition for spring sports beginning March 27 pending the Board’s review of health guidance and travel restrictions. Spring sports include baseball, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s golf, and women’s track & field. The men’s volleyball program – which competes in the New England Collegiate Conference – has not yet made a decision regarding the 2021 season.

Additionally, due to state and local restrictions, there will be no spectators permitted at any sporting event that is conducted in 2020-21.

ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of 10 full member and two associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 19 intercollegiate sports.

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