Itemizer-Observer report

MONMOUTH — Western Oregon University’s basketball teams will not participate in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference 2021 season.

The GNAC announced Friday that it plans to move forward with modified conference-only men’s and women’s basketball schedules beginning in January.

Four teams — Alaska Fairbanks, Northwest Nazarene, Saint Martin’s and Seattle Pacific — have indicated that they will participate in the 2021 season. Six institutions have decided that they will not participate in the conference basketball season for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those not competing in the GNAC season are Alaska Anchorage, Central Washington, Montana State Billings, Simon Fraser, Western Oregon and Western Washington.

“We are disappointed we will not be participating in the GNAC basketball season this year. The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and University community continue to be our top priority and we believe that the risk of traveling to multiple cities to play an indoor, high contact sport is too high at this time,” said WOU interim director of athletics Randi Lydum. “Our teams have been training throughout the fall with the hope that conditions related to COVID-19 would improve this winter. Our student-athletes will continue to have access to training facilities, coaching, support staff, and athletic training services. We plan to continue modified practice throughout the winter and spring. We are hopeful that our spring sport teams will have the opportunity to compete for GNAC and NCAA Championship opportunities in the upcoming months.” 

New schedules are being revised to minimize travel and emphasize the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff. Teams will play games on consecutive days against the same opponent in the same location, with games played on Fridays and Saturdays. The men’s and women’s schedules will mirror each other, with two competing schools playing each other on the same dates at opposite locations.

Games will begin no earlier than Jan. 7.

The GNAC Management Council and CEO Board 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.

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