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Minnesota West football, volleyball, soccer seasons canceled

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference on Monday announced that fall football, volleyball and soccer seasons for the fall of 2020 have been canceled due to health concerns related to COVID-19.

Minnesota West Bluejays

WORTHINGTON -- With a brief, terse announcement, the Minnesota College Athletic Conference greatly affected the lives of hundreds of community college athletes on Monday, calling an end to fall football, volleyball and soccer seasons for MCAC schools.

Thus, Minnesota West Community and Technical College will not offer the three sports in the fall of 2020.

In an email sent to The Globe from the college, Minnesota West reported that MCAC schools met to “determine how to move forward with intercollegiate athletics for fall semester in light of COVID-19. The presidents reaffirmed their commitment to protecting the health of student-athletes.”

In the next paragraph it was revealed that with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health, the conference decided to limit fall athletic programs to those identified as “low risk” -- clay target and golf.

The MCAC also said that for basketball, baseball, softball and wrestling -- sports where practice and competition spans both the fall and spring semesters -- all organized physical activities are prohibited during the fall semester. The potential for spring seasons are yet to be determined.

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About a month ago, community college wrestling programs were moved from the winter to the spring.

Minnesota West President Dr. Terry Gaalswyk commented on Monday’s news in a press release.

“Minnesota West is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment to our students. The difficult decision shared today does not erode our steadfast and long-term commitment to intercollegiate sports. Our top priority remains the health and safety of our student-athletes as well as our fans, communities and the overall well-being of others during these uncharted times.”

The MCAC includes 24 two-year colleges in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

The Globe reached Minnesota West men’s athletic director Bob Purcell and women’s athletic director Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka Monday night, and both said that they and Bluejays coaches were asked not to comment on the news at this time.

Purcell said their first order of business is to attempt to contact players affected by the decision.

“We’re trying to process the whole thing, ourselves, today,” Purcell said.

The decision -- coming as it did in early July -- will come as a surprise to many, since a decision on how Minnesota high school sports will move forward for fall isn’t expected to come until later this month. But Purcell said the timing of Monday’s decision wasn’t a surprise to athletic directors since practices for fall sports begin earlier than they do for high school.

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In 2019, Jeff Linder coached the Minnesota West football program, Brittney McNab coached the volleyball program, and Wayne Verdoorn coached the men’s soccer team. Last spring, the West baseball and softball seasons were canceled or cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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