As MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) Athletic Directors are set to decide the fate of Spring sports early this March, the status of the current winter season will likely play heavily into their decision. While Carleton, St. Olaf, Macalester and St. Catherine’s opted out of Winter sports, the remainder of MIAC schools decided to compete in Women’s and Men’s Basketball, Hockey, Swim & Dive and Indoor Track & Field.
But competition has taken new forms due to pandemic restrictions. All MIAC conference championships were cancelled and individual institutions were left to decide their Swim & Dive and Indoor Track & Field schedules. As for Women’s and Men’s Basketball and Hockey, the MIAC released a schedule of Wednesday and Saturday games starting in early February to mid-March.
In theory, the schedules drawn by the MIAC were solid, but as Einstein said, “in theory… theory and practice are the same, but in practice, they are not.” In practice, the Winter season did not go smoothly for the schools who chose to compete. Seasons were truncated, competitions were postponed, and for certain sports at individual institutions, competition didn’t even take place.
For Swim & Dive, only six meets took place during March and February, and only 4 MIAC institutions ended up competing. Saint John’s, Gustavus, Hamline, and St. Thomas competed in a series of dual and quad meets against each other, all of which took place at Gustavus in St. Peter, save one dual meet at St. John’s in Collegeville.
Indoor Track & Field had somewhat more success. Bethel, Gustavus, Hamline, Augsburg, St. Thomas, Concordia, and Saint Mary’s participated in a series of dual and triangular meets against each other throughout the last two months, with meets scheduled up until March 6. Concordia also competed in out-of-conference meets in North Dakota against a myriad of schools in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) and North Dakota College Athletic Conference (NDCAC). Saint Mary’s University is also scheduled to compete out-of-conference against Winona State University.
Women’s and Men’s Basketball and Hockey have also faced numerous postponements—likely due to COVID-19 concerns. In the MIAC COVID competition plan updated on February 12, the procedure for postponement is laid out as such:
“In the event of outbreak or injuries significantly impacting rosters, postponement of a game should be considered. If the minimum eligible number student-athletes (eight for basketball 16 for hockey) remain healthy, competition should continue. A minimum number of student-athletes need to be available for a team to engage in competition; however, a team may elect to move forward with fewer student-athletes.”
Fourteen of 31 Women’s Hockey games have been postponed or cancelled, while 15 of 28 Men’s Hockey games have been, including the last 12 scheduled games. Eleven of 23 Women’s Basketball games and 15 of 30 Men’s Basketball games have been cancelled or postponed as well.
No one expected a completely normal season of competition amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but the current status of the MIAC winter seasons is troubling not only for the athletes competing but also for intercollegiate competition going forward.