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WAYNE — With the health and safety of its member institutions’ communities, the importance of successful institutional campus reopening and the overall well-being of its student-athletes as its top priorities, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Board of Directors on Monday unanimously supported a delay to the start of fall athletic competition.

For the sports of football and men’s & women’s cross country, the first permissible practice will be Wednesday, Sept. 2 with the first date of competition scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26.

For volleyball and soccer, the first permissible practice will be Tuesday, Sept. 8 with the first date of competition scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2.

Subsequently, WSC football schedule will be reduced from 10-games to eight, losing a road contest at Bemidji State and a home game with a Minot State. The Wildcats will now open the 2020 season at Minnesota Duluth on Sept. 26th.

The Wildcat volleyball team will now see an original 20-game schedule reduced to 15, losing road games at Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State and home matches against Sioux Falls, Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State. WSC will open the season on the road at the University of Mary on Oct. 2.

The WSC soccer teams’ original 15-game schedule has been cut to 11 games and will now start on Oct. 2 with a home match against Minnesota Crookston.

The Wildcats lost four matches against Minnesota State, Concordia-St. Paul, Northern State and MSU Moorhead.

The WSC cross country schedule will see at least two meets canceled — Sept. 5th at Dordt and Sept. 12th at Dakota State. An updated schedule for Wildcat cross country will be announced at a later date.

An amended schedule for Wayne State College women’s golf will be released at a later date.

“This was a challenging decision for our membership to make,” stated NSIC Commissioner Erin Lind. “For the last several months, our membership has been working tirelessly to prepare for the fall sport season, including developing the resumption of athletic principles, revamping schedules and creating competition disruption plans. At this time, we remain optimistic that we can safely conduct a fall sports season and moving the start date of competition will give us the best opportunity to give our student-athletes the experience they deserve.”

The health and safety of student-athletes, athletics personnel, and greater campus communities in the NSIC is paramount. Given the information from the medical and scientific community, and the number of uncertainties and limitations involving local and state regulations, it has become evident that a delay to the original start dates can provide the membership the opportunity to be prepared for all student-athletes to return to campus and work through all of the requirements for resocialization.

Making this decision now permits campuses to focus solely on reopening safely for their broader campus communities. The challenge of preparing for a fall sports season amidst the present uncertainties should not affect overall institutional reopening plans nor the health and safety of the wider campus community.

“Athletics is a vital aspect of all 16 of our campus communities and we owe it to our student-athletes to exhaust all options that will result in an opportunity for them to compete in their sport. We are optimistic that remedies to manage the virus and minimize spread will improve over time which would provide a more consistent season and positive experience for our student-athletes. Although we are not able to guarantee this given the uncertain nature of the virus, we are committed to exploring all options,” said Lind.

The conference will continue to monitor the landscape and conditions surrounding the pandemic, locally, regionally and nationally, and make any decisions or announcements at a later date, as necessary.

In other news

After qualifying for the state tournament for a second straight year in 2019, and saying goodbye to four talented seniors, it would have been natural for high school volleyball pundits to assume Battle Creek would take a step back this fall.

After getting a week break from matches, the well-rested Norfolk Catholic Knights volleyball team came into the match with Wayne on Tuesday night and they took care of business 25-17, 25-20 and 25-23.