ELLENSBURG, WA – Ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic have forced Central Washington University and five other members in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to cancel their men's and women's basketball seasons.
"This was not an easy decision," said CWU Director of Athletics Dennis Francois. "But the well-being of our student-athletes has to be paramount in situations such as this. Our student-athletes and coaches are understandably upset because they're competitors. But they realize this is still a very unsettled time and that if we are erring, we're erring on the side of caution for them."
Other GNAC schools not competing this season include Alaska Anchorage, Montana State Billings, Simon Fraser, Western Oregon and Western Washington. The decision was approved by the conference's CEO Board, which includes the presidents of all conference schools.
"After looking at what we know, and considering all of the possibilities and trends regarding the spread of the virus, we determined it was in the best interest of the institution to cancel our seasons," said CWU President James L. Gaudino. "It's a decision none of us wanted to make, but one that had to be made to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff."
While the six schools have opted not to compete, the GNAC also agreed to move forward with modified conference-only men's and women's basketball schedules with its other members. The four teams – Alaska Fairbanks, Northwest Nazarene, Saint Martin's and Seattle Pacific – have indicated that they will participate in the season, which will begin no earlier than January 7, 2021.
"We support each conference member and the decisions that have been made regarding the upcoming basketball season," noted GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund. "As it has done since the onset of the pandemic, the GNAC leadership will continue to evaluate and monitor conditions related to the coronavirus and make decisions as warranted."
The GNAC Management Council, which is comprised of the athletic directors for member schools, and CEO Board will continue to look at the feasibility of the spring seasons for baseball, softball, outdoor track and field, men's and women's golf and women's rowing; and the suspended fall seasons for cross country, men's and women's soccer and volleyball.