June 3, 2020

COVID-19’s impact on Capital University athletics

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many aspects of the university to come to a grinding halt. One major activity this has affected is sports.

On March 12, the university announced the cancelation of all spring sports in coordination with the Ohio Athletic Conference. Starting March 16, all spring sports were officially canceled for the spring 2020 season.

The university has spring sports teams participating in lacrosse, golf, tennis, softball, baseball, and outdoor track & field. The OAC released a statement that said “all meetings, practices and other off-season activities for other sports have also been canceled.” This affects the training schedules of sports such as football, soccer, volleyball, and others.

The NCAA released a statement the same day canceling the completion of all winter championships. For the university’s athletic program, that meant an early end to the postseason for Josh Miller, a junior who has had an impressive year thus far in the shot put and weight throw events.

Miller had traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to compete when he heard the news.

Photo Credit to Joe Maiorana.

“We arrived down at the venue on Wednesday afternoon and at the time everything was still on,” Miller said.

Miller, a 2019 Regional Athlete of the Year, was set to receive an award during the event weekend at a banquet before the meet. The banquet was canceled Thursday afternoon.

Later Thursday, Miller learned that the public would be banned from entering the venue that weekend during competition. This meant that Miller’s parents were unable to watch him compete.

“It crushed not only them but also me to realize they wouldn’t be allowed to see what I believe I was going to achieve that day,” Miller said. 

Moments later, Miller’s teammates informed him that spring sports had been canceled. This meant that Miller would throw for the last time this season Friday. He decided to delete all social media to not let the flood of announcements distract him going into the weekend.

Thursday evening, after a solid day of practice, Miller was called into his coach’s hotel room. It was there that he received the news that the championship meet was canceled and his junior season was over.

“This news really forced me to break down into tears, frustration, and a sickness,” Miller said. “It’s hard to put into words all the emotions this caused.”

Another collegiate sporting event that was set to arrive at the university was the Division III NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship and WBCA Senior All-Star Game. Both events have also been canceled in coordination with the NCAA.

“Capital University was ready to go … The gym was set and we were ready for a fantastic week,” Ryan Gasser, sports information director, said via email.

The floor for the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship had been set just days before the announcement of the event’s cancellation. (Photo credit- Ryan Gasser/Capital University Athletics)

“The decision to not hold the event was solely the NCAA’s decision to make, and they made it.”

For seniors, this news is upsetting, as for many, this spring season may have been their last time participating in an organized sport that they love. Many have united via social media to voice their frustration and heartbreak. They use the term #redshirtcoronayear in hopes that the cancelations caused by the virus will lead to an additional year of eligibility.

The good news is that the NCAA plans to extend eligibility of spring sports athletes. The bad news is we don’t know how this will be executed. Teams only have so many spots to fill rosters and every year new athletes are recruited to replace the seniors who graduate. The NCAA and OAC have not offered any word on how teams are expected to accommodate an extra class of athletes in the future.

“There are many discussions and policies that have to be agreed upon in order to finalize [granting an extra year of eligibility],” Gasser said. “Once the NCAA does make a final ruling on if and who gets an extra year of eligibility, Capital will certainly extend that offer and make every attempt to get those athletes that benefit.”

For more information on COVID-19, please keep updated via the official university website.

  • Zach Ferenchak is a current Senior studying Emerging Media with an emphasis in PR. Along with serving as managing editor for The Chimes, Zach is heavily involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America, where he serves as the organization's incoming National Vice President of Brand Engagement. He is an avid communicator who hopes to one day elevate brands and causes through effective storytelling.

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