The ACC is delaying all competition for fall Olympic sports until at least Sept. 1 due to the ongoing pandemic, the league announced Thursday. The delay applies to several sports, including soccer and field hockey, but not football.
According to the ACC, the decision — unanimously approved by its Board of Directors — was made to allow each school “to further focus on ensuring return to competition protocols are in place to facilitate the resocialization process.”
Only the start of competition will be delayed, which includes both exhibition and non-conference games. Teams may still meet, practice and work out at athletics facilities before Sept. 1.
The delay impacts six Virginia teams — men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball. These teams usually begin competition in mid- to late-August, but the ACC’s decision will impact each of their schedules by at least a few weeks.
Last year, Virginia women’s soccer kicked off its season with an exhibition game Aug. 15, field hockey started Aug. 18 and cross country, men’s soccer and volleyball all began their seasons Aug. 30. Each team’s 2020-21 schedule has not yet been announced by Virginia Athletics.
The conference added that the delay may extend past Sept. 1 and that any rescheduling of competition will be managed by the individual schools.
“The league continues to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on fall schedules and competitions with the understanding that there may be future changes, and that the priority remains the health and safety of our student-athletes,” the press release said.
Notably, this change to the fall competition schedule will not apply to Virginia football, which began voluntary pre-season training July 5 with testing protocols in place for athletes and staff. However, there have been reports that the ACC is considering canceling non-conference football games among other options for the upcoming season. At the moment, Virginia football has four non-conference opponents on the schedule — Georgia, VMI, Connecticut and Old Dominion. The first — against Georgia for the nationally televised Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta — is currently scheduled for Sept. 7. Georgia enters the season as the fourth best team in the country, according to 247sports.
The ACC’s announcement and reports of further changes come after other Division I conferences announced changes to their own fall sports seasons in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Ivy League ruled out any intercollegiate athletics competition during the fall semester. Additionally, the Big Ten stated that it will be moving to shortened conference-only seasons for all fall sports in 2020.
While Virginia football returned to Grounds this week, Virginia Athletics has yet to release details about the return of other teams, fan attendance in the fall or the protocols that will be put in place for fall competition.