Director of Athletics John Sutyak has written the following letter to the Ferrum College community announcing Ferrum Athletics’ updated plans for fall 2020:
Dear Ferrum Community,
In conjunction with the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) announcement this afternoon, Ferrum College will not compete in any external athletic competition before January 1, 2021, due to the ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we will not bring students back for pre-season early in August, Ferrum College intends to move forward with on-campus training, conditioning and practices within our athletic programs to the full extent that will be allowed under NCAA rules and regulations throughout the fall semester. We intend for our fall sport programs to compete in regular season competition in the spring of 2021, alongside our traditional winter and spring sports.
Since last spring, the entire athletics staff has been preparing for the safe return of our student-athletes. We had worked to ensure best practices using a combination of resources, notably the NCAA Core Principles of Resocialization of College Sport. However, with the growing public health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new NCAA best practices of how to safely provide a full intercollegiate experience, it became clear that we could no longer adequately deliver the full experience that our student-athletes deserve this semester.
It is important to note that Ferrum is not canceling sports this fall. In working to provide proper training, conditioning and practice opportunities we will continue to utilize best practices that are laid out by the NCAA, CDC and other health agencies. The Ferrum College administration has every intention of having our student-athletes return to competition after the new year as allowed within NCAA and ODAC rules and assuming local, state and national regulations allow us to do so. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the ODAC, and all of Division III, to explore all of the opportunities that will be possible for our student-athletes.
This has been an unprecedented, and challenging year. Like all of you, we here at Ferrum yearn for the return of collegiate athletics, especially here on Ferrum Mountain Road. Although this is a setback that we had hoped would be avoidable, the Ferrum athletics staff will now shift its focus into providing the best student-athlete experience we can this fall, with our eyes on returning to outside competition in the spring.
The greatest joy I have as an athletic director is watching our student-athletes compete and work toward achieving their goals. It hurts that for the second time in the past five months I am delivering the news that we won’t be competing as we had intended. It can be tough to find the silver lining in this news, however I continue to be bolstered and encouraged by the passion and energy of the coaching, athletic training and administrative staff within Ferrum College athletics, as well as all around campus. Despite what seems like the longest “off-season” in the history of collegiate athletics, it is that energy and enthusiasm that encompasses who we are and why we will continue to remain Ferrum Strong!
Stay healthy, stay safe and Go Panthers!
Director of Athletics