There will be no athletics at Swarthmore College this academic year.
The college announced Tuesday afternoon that all varsity and club athletics for the spring 2021 semester has been suspended following an announcement by college president Valerie Smith that the school will not be returning to full residential enrollment in the spring. Only juniors and seniors will be allowed on campus for the spring semester due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The decision affects all winter and spring sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, swimming, baseball and softball, and men’s and women’s lacrosse.
“The value of athletics participation and its impact on community cannot be overstated, providing opportunities for collaboration across campus and institutional pride and energy that cannot be replicated in other forums,” the school said in a statement on its athletics website. “Athletics and physical education play a significant role in maintaining and strengthening the well-being of our community members; we are designing robust offerings for the upcoming academic year to support our community’s physical and mental health.
“Unfortunately, all of the measures we’re putting in place to keep our community members safe — strict physical distancing and masking policies, limits on the number of students returning to campus, severely restricting college travel, etc. — have prohibited our participation in intercollegiate athletic competition for the 2020-21 academic year. We support that decision, and our coaches are developing meaningful and creative ways to engage with members of their teams during the course of the year.”
On June 30, Swarthmore announced that all varsity and club sports were suspended for the remainder of 2020, and that only first-year students, sophomores, incoming transfers and resident assistants would be on campus for the fall semester.
At the time of that announcement Smith said that the virus would determine if Swarthmore would return to full enrollment in the spring. Although there have been just 10 positive cases among the more than 5,500 tests conducted on the students and faculty, according numbers on Swarthmore’s website, the school felt it was prudent not to have all students return to campus, which makes it difficult to hold intercollegiate competition.
“Unfortunately, at this point the virus continues to disrupt our lives and remains unpredictable, as evidenced by the troubling spikes we are again seeing in the number of cases across the country and here in the Philadelphia area,” Smith wrote in her statement to the college community. “After much discussion and in consultation with public health experts regarding the safe capacity of our campus facilities, we are planning to invite juniors and seniors to live on campus for the spring semester — with similar safety protocols in place as we have had this fall for first-year students and sophomores. “
Men’s basketball player Vinny DeAngelo, an All-Delco selection out of Sun Valley, was not surprised by the decision to suspend sports for the rest of the academic year.
“Our team has met on Zoom,” said DeAngelo, who took a leave of absence for the fall semester. “We’ve talked to our coaches and they said the chances of us having a season were pretty slim. That was back in August, I want to say. Still, it’s definitely disappointing, but I kind of figured this would happen.”