Friday afternoon the Lone Star Conference announced plans for fall athletics. Following discussions with presidents and chancellors in the LSC, Dr. Terisa Riley released this email regarding how the conference plans will impact athletics at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.
This morning, the Lone Star Conference Presidents and Chancellors met with Athletic Directors to discuss our challenges and concerns regarding the resocialization of athletes and return to fall sports. Most importantly, we discussed the health and well-being of our student-athletes. All school representatives expressed a desire to support the physical and mental health of athletes, coaches, and spectators. We all know how important athletics can be to building school spirit and community culture.
We also discussed the concerns we have about student and employee health, the unknown long-term effects of COVID-19, and our desire to mitigate as many risks as possible to protect our communities.
Last, we discussed recent decisions by the NCAA that impact our path forward. Many of you are aware that the NCAA voted to cancel Division II championships for the fall. You may not be aware of the new NCAA directives for athlete COVID-19 testing, or that participating institutions must ensure that student-athletes do not incur out of pocket medical expenses due to COVID-19.
Given the entirety of the discussion, the following decisions were reached by the LSC presidents and chancellors:
The Lone Star Conference will postpone the competition of football, soccer, and volleyball teams to the spring. These sports may practice during the fall under all applicable NCAA Division II rules, but may not compete.
Institutions that compete in cross country will be allowed to compete in the fall, and the Lone Star Conference Championship will occur. Golf and tennis will be permitted to compete in their fall non-championship segment. The LSC will not allow other outside competition in the fall.
No practice activities (in any sport) may begin any earlier than August 24. Competition in cross country, golf and/or tennis may not begin any earlier than the week of September 21.
Basketball teams may start practice in their championship segment on or after October 15, but may not compete until the spring.
The Lone Star Conference collectively confirmed all of the above decisions; however, each institution may choose or be required to alter practices and competition based on individual or institutional needs or due to state and local directives.
Frequently Asked Questions from Student-Athletes:
Will UAFS Athletes participate in fall sports? UAFS officials are still determining if we will be able to meet the testing and medical requirements recently announced by the NCAA. Our starting dates for practices may be altered based on the availability of COVID-19 tests and the speed at which we can receive their results. We are still researching our ability to insure athletes so that they do not have out of pocket medical costs if they test positive for COVID-19.
Which sports are impacted by this decision: At this time, Volleyball and Men’s and Women’s Basketball will not compete until spring. Cross Country will compete this fall, and the Lone Star Conference will host the LSC Cross Country Championship. Golf and tennis may compete in their non-championship segments.
Will athletic facilities remain open? Athletics facilities will remain open to student-athletes. Student-athletes will participate in practice, strength and conditioning and have access to athletic trainers and the training room. Some restrictions will be in place. Anyone entering the Stubblefield Center will have to have a symptom and temperature check.
Will there be fall practice? Yes, according to NCAA guidelines and a recent decision made by the Lone Star Conference, we will be allowed to have athletic practices this Fall beginning no earlier than August 24.
Will student-athletes have access to services and support such as athletic training and strength & conditioning? Yes. The training room will be by appointment only, and physical distancing protocols will be in place for all meetings.
Will athletic scholarships be honored this fall? Yes
Will academic eligibility and NCAA progress-to-degree requirements remain in effect?
Yes. Student-athletes must pass at least nine credits during the fall semester, produce at least a 2.0 GPA for the fall semester, and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher to be eligible during the 2021 spring semester.
Does the student-athlete code of conduct still apply? Yes.
Is there specific information available for international student-athletes? Yes. Our coaches and administrative staff have remained in close contact with the UAFS International Office and our International Student-Athletes. For additional questions about international student-athletes, please email Curtis.Janz@UAFS.edu.
Will the student-athletes regain a year of eligibility? At this time, we are working to have meaningful seasons in all sports, and no sports have been canceled. We are communicating with NCAA and LSC compliance staffs and remaining up-to-date on the legislative processes to evaluate any changes in eligibility requirements.
Do I need to remain full-time if there will be no competition during the fall semester?
Yes. It is believed that athletic activities (practice, conditioning, etc.) will be allowed in some form during the fall semester if no competition is conducted. Any student-athlete not registered full-time will not be allowed to participate in any practices.
Will athletic teams who are not competing continue to function as teams? Will they have coaches?
It is expected that coaches will be permitted to engage with their teams and student-athletes virtually and face-to-face. Following best practices for sport resocialization, we will implement an approach that will allow teams to practice in small groups and progress through various phases that will increase the number of participants and activities.
If a student-athlete is unable to, or chooses not to come to campus and studies remotely, will their financial aid award be honored?
Generally, yes. Some students have institutional financial aid that covers a portion or all of their housing and/or meal plan expenses (e.g., athletes on a full-ride scholarship, resident assistants, etc.). For those students, their institutional financial aid will be reduced proportionally to the reductions in their expenses.
When will students know if spring sports are happening?
A decision regarding spring sports competition has not been made at this time. UAFS will post changes on the UAFS Athletics website and provide information to the coaches and athletes as soon as decisions are made by the NCAA and Lone Star Conference.
What precautions will be in place for practices?
Upon arrival to campus, all student-athletes will be tested for COVID-19. Student-athletes must have a negative test result to be cleared to practice. Daily temperature checks and screenings questions will be required prior to practice for each student-athlete and staff member. Coaches and facility monitors will sanitize and clean equipment and facilities after each practice.
How and when will screenings take place?
Temperature checks and screening questions will be monitored by coaches, athletic training, and health services staff. Student-athletes will have access to health pre-check mobile application to record their daily temperature and health screening data.
What if a student-athlete is diagnosed positive for COVID-19?
Any student-athlete who is diagnosed positive or suspects they have been exposed to COVID-19 will be required to follow university protocol and self-isolation.
Will I lose my scholarship if I test positive for COVID-19?
Frequently Asked Questions from our Community Supporters:
Will season tickets be sold this fall?
Season tickets will not be sold this year due to the uncertain nature of game dates, travel restrictions, and Stubblefield occupancy restrictions. When competitions resume, individual game tickets will be sold as space allows assuming spectators are allowed to attend.
How can I support UAFS Athletics during the fall season?
UAFS student-athletes, like many college students and student-athletes across the country, are facing challenges, unlike any other year. To help support student-athletes through scholarships, program opportunities and more, click here.