Ohio University’s David Burroughs hurdles while running the ball during the first OU Football game of the season against the Howard Bison at Peden Stadium on Sept. 1, 2018. File photo by Michael Johnson.

The Mid-American Conference (MAC), of which Ohio University is a member, announced this morning that it will delay fall conference sports.

The MAC also announced it hopes to resume competition in those sports in the spring, according to a press release issued by OU Saturday morning.

This decision was made collectively by the MAC Council of Presidents, who unanimously voted to take this action with the health and safety of its student-athletes, fellow Universities in the MAC, the OU release stated.

“The health and safety of our student athletes, coaches and athletics support staff remain Ohio University’s top priority in the midst of the global health crisis,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said in the press release. “We are extremely proud of our student athletes and their tremendous accomplishments both in the classroom and on the field of play. We recognize the disappointment that will be felt by the Bobcat nation this fall but it is our hope that we will be able to cheer on the OHIO Bobcats in the spring if it is safe to do so.”

All of OU’s fall team sports, including football, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s golf will be postponed until spring of 2021.

The university planned to bring back 276 student athletes as part of phase 1 of reopening — Aug. 24 through Sept. 27 — from the following teams: football, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, cross-country (men’s and women’s), golf (men’s and women’s), and basketball (men’s and women’s).

Of those students, 107 would live in residence halls and the rest off-campus, a spokesperson previously told The Athens NEWS.

OU student athletes were permitted to return to the area this summer for voluntary conditioning and training, as long as they followed university protocol and were tested for COVID-19. Eight student athletes tested positive for the virus in July.

“While we are disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans, we understand that today’s decision was made with the best interest of all in mind,” Ohio University Director of Athletics Julie Cromer said in the media statement. “I’m extremely proud of our student-athletes for their resiliency during this difficult time. We look forward to the day when we can safely return to competition.”

Cromer indicated during the June OU Board of Trustees meeting that the university was tentatively planning to hold sporting events and host live audiences in the fall.

At this time, there have been no decisions made regarding winter sports, the university press release stated.

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