College pulls the plug on sports this spring

MIDDLEBURY — The decision announced by Middlebury College Tuesday to suspend most on-campus operations due to the threat posed by COVID-19 will apparently not end the NCAA Division III championship dreams of the school’s women’s hockey or ski teams, but it will almost certainly cancel the rest of the college’s spring sports season.

The college’s announcement included the following language:

“Spring Athletic Events and Practices: Effective 10 p.m. tonight, we are suspending all spring athletic activities, including practices and home and away games, until further notice.

“No College-Sponsored Travel: Effective immediately, there will be no college-sponsored travel of any kind, including trips by athletic teams and clubs; faculty and staff in-person participation in conferences; and other engagements.”

However, in a Wednesday morning meeting school officials decided to allow the Panther women’s hockey to host its NCAA quarterfinal vs. Endicott on Saturday in an empty Kenyon Arena. If the Panthers win, they will also be allowed to attend the NCAA final four the following weekend, possibly in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

The college’s ski team had already traveled to Bozeman, Mont., to compete in the NCAA championships from this Wednesday through Saturday.

Middlebury College will begin spring break this Friday, March 13, after classes end, one week earlier than scheduled. Students will not return, and will instead take classes remotely beginning on Monday, March 30.

The college statement, which was signed by Middlebury College President Laurie Patton, noted a visitor to a campus sporting event had been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, although according to the statement, “The Vermont Department of Health confirms that the person was not a risk to the community at the time of their visit here.”

Among the Middlebury teams that see their seasons end are men’s lacrosse and defending NCAA champion women’s lacrosse programs, each off to 3-0 starts, and the men’s and women’s tennis teams, each of which made the NCAA final four in 2019.

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