Following the recent announcement from the NESCAC Conference that there will be no conference play or championships this fall, Vice President and Harold Alfond Director of Athletics Mike Wisecup sent this letter to Colby’s student athletes:

Dear Colby Mules,

In April, I wrote to you shortly after we made the transition off campus for the semester. In that message, I recognized that our adaptability and strength of character are at the core of what it means to be a Mule. These qualities, honed through years of hard practice and competition, prepared you to weather this time of uncertainty with uncommon grace, and I could not be more proud of you.

Over the last few months, we have been preparing for your return to campus firmly guided by three principles: protecting the health and safety of the Colby and local communities, maintaining an exceptional educational program, and, whenever possible, facilitating experiences that enrich our core educational mission and foster growth in our students. Additional safety protocols will make the Colby experience different in some ways than we normally expect, and athletics is not immune from this. With that in mind, we are developing a multitude of new programs in the new athletics and recreation center, which will be open when you return to campus. In many ways, this facility represents Colby’s unwavering commitment to providing the best possible opportunities for all students to engage in competition and live a healthy, active lifestyle.

Earlier today, the NESCAC Conference announced that there would not be conference play and championships this fall. This follows similar announcements from the Ivy League and other Division III conferences this week. Some colleges will be providing primarily remote education this fall, some have state restrictions that are challenging, and we are all concerned about travel, variations in testing protocols and other safety measures, and the inherent risks of competitions during the pandemic. We are still exploring whether there are possibilities for a more limited, local competition schedule for some teams this fall, but that will ultimately be determined by safety considerations.

We remain fully committed to finding every possible way to provide exciting and enriching opportunities for you to practice and compete with your team this year. The key for us is to be as creative as possible within the safety and health guidelines and to be prepared for opportunities if the situation allows for changes. Some recent changes by the NCAA and NESCAC are worth noting because they provide for a greater relaxation of rules than we have seen in the past:

Oversight of out-of-season athletics activities in non-traditional seasons. Fall and spring teams will be allowed to conduct limited activity in the non-traditional season in accordance with NCAA rules. This will allow institutions to conduct up to 16 practices over a five-week period during the non-traditional segment for fall and spring sports. This will allow for oversight of athletic activity by coaches and athletic training staff, and it will increase compliance with federal, state, local, and institutional return-to-play safety guidelines.    

Adjustment of winter sports practice start date from November 1 to October 15. Winter teams are permitted to begin practice October 15. Playing season flexibility resulting from this waiver assists in complying with state, local, and institutional return-to-play safety guidelines.            

D-III Administrative Committee approves blanket waivers for participation. Division III student athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team can complete only 50 percent or less of the sport’s maximum contests/dates of competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee also approved a blanket waiver permitting student athletes to receive a two-semester/three-quarter extension of eligibility. Both blanket waivers will apply to all sports during the 2020-21 academic year.

These changes, coupled with a creative and optimistic attitude on the part of all of us, provide the greatest flexibility to develop a meaningful athletic experience. There will still be hurdles we need to overcome. But I am confident that as long as we work together as a team, we will be able to manage this, overcome this unprecedented challenge, and come out stronger and more competitive to ensure that Colby’s dedicated student athletes have the most rewarding athletic experience possible.

Mike Wisecup

Vice President and Harold Alfond Director of Athletics