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The Antelope

MIAA officials throw in towel on fall athletics


The future is in flux for UNK athletes following the MIAA’s decision to cancel fall contests. The emergency action, aiming to protect students from COVID-19, revised an earlier strategy hoping to reschedule fall games.

For those now left without a season, this appears to be a bad omen for the semester to come.

“I think it’s definitely a warning sign that if people don’t take symptoms seriously or don’t take the mask thing seriously or even the six feet social distancing thing seriously, there’s a possibility that it could have the same outcome as it had for us,” said Blake Bubak, a redshirt senior for the UNK football team. “I guess at this point it’s just kind of a day by day basis as to what’s going to happen to different organizations and different groups outside of athletics.”

Bubak said he may reconsider his plans to move on from UNK in December.

“Part of me was kind of excited to play this fall and ready to move on, but now that it’s gotten moved back a year, I really had to reevaluate how bad I wanted to play that last year,” Bubak said. “And I do, don’t get me wrong, because you only get to play sports for so long before you have to hang it up.”

For Bubak’s teammate, the path ahead seems to be clearer.

“Everything I’ve seen and heard so far has been that they would give back eligibility,” said Will Lansman, a fellow redshirt senior on the football team. “As of right now I’m planning on returning. I gotta make sure I can get into the master’s program I want to get into but I can’t see that being a big problem.”

Lansman saidhe’s more disappointed than anything else.

“I think I could speak for a lot of guys on the team,” Lansman said. “During the summer and in winter, all you do is you get excited for the fall and the chance to play again. And to do all that offseason work and build up, just to have the funnest part of being a college athlete, your actual season, get canceled—it’s disappointing, but you understand why given everything that’s going on right now.”

The decision to cancel the season was not made in a vacuum. Per the MIAA’s press release, the decision was influenced by the NCAA’s move to cancel fall championships as well as the NCAA Sport Science Institute’s directives published as “Resocialization of Collegiate Sport.”

And the decision wasn’t made alone.

“It wasn’t just the MIAA conference commissioner’s decision,” said Marc Bauer, UNK athletic director. “It was our conference presidents and presidents of our institutions, collectively, who looked at all the relative factors and made a decision based on each institution’s circumstances.”

For athletes involved in golf and cross country, the cancellation of the season means taking a hard look at independent competition. Golf team junior Lacie Fox, who only recently recovered from an injury that prevented her from playing, said she plans to continue golfing on her own through the fall. Nick Balerud of the cross country team said he’s unsure of the technicalities right now, but indicated running without Loper garb may be an option for college runners.

 Bauer points to health being the main concern in all planning for the fall.

“The main thing is the health and wellness of our athletes is critical,” Bauer said. “The athletic department really has done a nice job of being leaders on campus through the summer. We’re trying to make a difference on our campus by being part of the solution and helping make sure that we—our student athletes, our coaches, our staff—are being responsible.”

With fall sports canceled and limited hope for contests in spring, conference officials now must turn their heads towards winter sports as the Oct.1 deadline approaches.

Some student athletes suspect that decision will come down to students’ ability to follow guidelines.

“This cancellation is probably out of fear of students not taking precautions seriously,” Balerud said. “So if they were to not take it seriously now, then they basically kind of enabled this thought process behind the decision.We’re just kind of waiting to see how the in person classes will roll out in terms of number of positives.”

For the daughter of UNK’s volleyball head coach, that effort to control the spread starts with students.

“I have had moments where I thought It doesn’t personally affect me, but it does affect my season, my teammates, my volleyball, my parents,” said redshirt senior Madison Squiers. “The main thing is, especially as college students and athletes, we all collectively need to be on the same page with wearing your mask, social distancing, not being part of the problem and not being a reason that numbers go up.”

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