UH-Hilo’s fall athletics will be pushed back to the spring after the Pacific West Conference’s executive board voted unanimously to postpone competitions until after the new year due to COVID-19 concerns.
The decision on Thursday affects Vulcans volleyball, which was looking to reach the postseason for the second consecutive time, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s cross-country, and to a lesser degree men’s and women’s golf.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is our top priority,” PacWest Commissioner Bob Hogue said in a release Friday morning. “We remain committed to giving all of our student-athletes a positive competitive experience as much as possible.”
The Vulcans still will be allowed to conduct organized team activities, as county and state guidelines permit, the release said, and a decision on the start of the winter sports season, which includes basketball, is expected to be made by Oct. 1, the release said.
“All fall sports will be moved to the spring,” UHH athletic director Pat Guillen said. “We’ll have to figure out the cross-country league championship. We’re probably looking at a Hawaii pod for fall sports playing in the spring. Volleyball will play the Hawaii schools and for soccer as well.”
The announcement comes on the heels of higher reported cases of COVID-19.
On Friday, Hawaii hit a record number of daily coronavirus cases with 60 new infections, including 58 on Oahu.
California reported 159 lives lost due to the coronavirus, a record single-day death toll. That topped the record set on Thursday with 157 deaths.
If the numbers keep spiking and the seasons get canceled, the NCAA will allow schools to provide student-athletes an additional season of competition and an extension of their period of eligibility.
It will be a jam-packed spring schedule with baseball and softball, and volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer added to the fold.
“We’re planning to play our winter sports (men’s and women’s basketball) in the spring,” Guillen said. “But we’ll see how it goes. We may have to front-load the basketball schedule with pod games in January and February before we can travel to the mainland. But we don’t have a crystal ball. We just have to keep our fingers crossed and plan the best that we can.”
The suspension of fall play follows suit with earlier moves by the other two NCAA Division II conferences in the West Region, the California Collegiate Athletic Association and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated