The Hockey Commissioners Association announced Thursday that the start of the 2020-21 NCAA season will be delayed due to the impact of COVID-19.
“The eleven Division I men’s and women’s ice hockey conferences, represented by the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA), are committed to providing memorable experiences for our student-athletes during the upcoming season. The conferences have been working together on plans to return to play with a focus on the health and safety of everyone associated within our campus communities. Due to the impact COVID-19 continues to have across the country and within higher education, the start of competition for the Division I college hockey season will be delayed. Each conference will announce plans for the season individually. We look forward to enjoying the college hockey experience this season.”
Several conferences also released statements Thursday.
“The health and safety of all involved across the campus communities, particularly our student-athletes, is the top priority,” said NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton. “We fully expect NCHC hockey to be back this season. As COVID-19 continues to have an impact on higher education, we have an obligation to host athletic competitions in a safe and responsible manner. We are committed to doing everything we conceivably can to provide competitive experiences that our student-athletes deserve. This delay affords us valuable time to continue formulating plans to start the season successfully.”
“We continue to engage in thorough evaluation and discussion of various options for safely opening the 2020-21 season, both nationally and within the WCHA, as the health and safety of everyone associated with our league is our top priority,” said WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson. “There was a strong desire to open the season as scheduled on October 3, but that is not possible given the realities we are facing. While we are still finalizing plans for our season at this point, we owe it to our student-athletes, coaches, officials and great fans to acknowledge the fact we will not begin play on time.”
“From day one, our discussions have centered around providing our student-athletes safe, meaningful competition opportunities,” WCHA women’s commissioner Jennifer Flowers said. “While our desire was to begin the season as scheduled, our board and the leadership at our member institutions recognize that is not an option given the current climate.
“Our primary focus continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, support staffs, officials and fans. We are actively engaged in the crafting and implementation of a return to play model that includes a new start date, addresses the diverse guidelines our member institutions are operating under and recognizes today’s ever-evolving medical and safety environments.
“This decision comes as our member institutions, which have only recently seen students return to campus, are concentrating on fulfilling their educational mission in the current landscape. Their success in tracking and meeting those challenges, coupled with rapid advances in COVID-19 testing, provide new data that inform our efforts. The league office and membership are working tirelessly to develop protocols allowing us to safely drop the puck on our season. We look forward to announcing a start date as soon as it is reasonable to do so.”