BELOIT—The news every Beloit College fall and winter student-athlete was dreading to hear became official Thursday morning.

The Midwest Conference announced the league will not sponsor fall or winter sport competition including championships for the 2020-21 academic year.

The unanimous decision by the MWC Presidents Council was made after months of closely monitoring COVID-19, as well as its impact on league campuses and local communities. Per the announcement, the decision covers men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball.

“While we are disappointed that our fall and winter student athletes won’t be able to compete in the traditional Midwest Conference schedule, the health and safety of our campuses remains the top priority of our institutions,” said Zach Messitte, Ripon College president and chair of the MWC Presidents’ Council. “We are hopeful that individual teams will continue to practice and, if appropriate, perhaps compete in some limited capacity in the months ahead.”

The MWC Presidents Council cited the “recent surge in positive cases, both regionally and nationally, the resulting impact on academic calendars, and the continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic are all factors in the decision not to play a winter athletic schedule.”

“This announcement is sad news for our fall and winter sport athletes,” said Beloit Athletic Director Dave DeGeorge. “We greatly value the hard work, determination and competitive spirit of every athlete who represents Beloit College. We look forward to the time when our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete in the authentic arena. For now, we will do our part to keep the campus and our community as safe as possible during this difficult time.”

The MWC press release stated it will continue to work diligently toward a spring season for baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s outdoor track & field. It stated “the Conference’s COVID-19 Working Group has developed return-to-play guidance that aligns with the most current NCAA Sport Science Institute’s Resocialization and Acclimatization recommendations, including elements such as testing, positive COVID-19 case response and environmental adjustments to reduce the risk of transmission.”

Beloit College also has its own COVID Taskforce which continues to develop protocol for a safe return to play.

The MWC stated that training may continue for fall and winter sport athletes at the discretion of each institution. Similarly, the Council endorsed the concept of institutional autonomy with regard to scrimmages and/or competition.

“At this time, we don’t know,” DeGeorge said of the Bucs fall or winter sports teams competing. “If the situation with the virus allows, we intend for our teams to practice. If it’s safe to do more than just practice, we will consider those possibilities.”