RDC Queens guard Amy Szymanek rises up for a jump shot against the SAIT Trojans in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s basketball play last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

RDC Queens guard Amy Szymanek rises up for a jump shot against the SAIT Trojans in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s basketball play last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

RDC withdraws from 2020-21 ACAC season

RDC cites ongoing COVID-19 health risks as major factor

Red Deer College will not be participating in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference play for the 2020-21 season.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen rising cases across the province in recent days, RDC said a decision to play would put students’ health at risk.

All other post-secondary institutions that participate in the ACAC have also withdrawn from the competition, including exhibition and conference games.

“While we were hopeful that the RDC Kings and Queens could safely play during the Winter Term, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic has created a highly unpredictable and precarious situation. If competition proceeded, student-athletes would be in contact with dozens of new opponents each week from different cities around the province and beyond, and we don’t want to introduce that elevated risk of potential exposure,” said RDC President Dr. Peter Nunoda.

“We understand the disappointment that this announcement may cause, but the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, athletics staff, and all other members of our campus community – as well as those at our partner institutions across the province – remain paramount in this decision.”

Nunoda said the possibility of not playing was discussed among the ACAC presidents last week. In that discussion, it was also noted that the institutions would be responsible for hiring a third-party for testing and they would be required to do their own contract tracing if play was to move forward.

“That would be a pretty onerous task on top of all of the other considerations,” Nunoda said.

Adding in the health risk to athletes and the potential for COVID-19 spread across the campus, he said the prudent decision was to pull out of the season. The presidents informed the ACAC of the decision not to play on Tuesday afternoon.

In October, the ACAC unanimously decided to withdraw from all 2021 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championships.

From that meeting, the ACAC Conference Council also supported a recommendation from its Covid-19 Planning Task Force to explore options for conducting a post-secondary season in Winter and Spring 2021.

Earlier this year, the ACAC made the decision to cancel the fall sports season and delay any two-semester sports like hockey, basketball and volleyball until January. In August, it was also decided that student-athletes would also not lose eligibility during the 2020-21 season.

According to the RDC release, athletes will be allowed to continue voluntary training as part of their team cohort at the College during the months ahead. They will also be allowed to return to their hometowns and follow their coach’s training regimen and recommendations.

Some good news did come for athletes Tuesday, as RDC got confirmation that student-athletes are still eligible for Alberta Athletic scholarships.

Nunoda noted that no coaches have been let go at this time and he is unsure about the possibility of playing fall sports next spring.

“We will continue to monitor the circumstances of the pandemic and collaborate with the ACAC and its members during the next several months,” said Nunoda.

“We hope that the RDC Kings and Queens, and all members of the conference, are able to safely return to competition for the 2021/2022 season. Our coaches and staff will remain highly connected with the student-athletes, whether they reside in Red Deer or elsewhere.”

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