NORFOLK, Va. - Old Dominion University will cancel the fall athletic season because of the coronavirus pandemic, President John R. Broderick announced Monday.
“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” President Broderick said.
“I know many on and off-campus will be disappointed, but we must prioritize the health and safety of our student-athletes, as well as our coaches, staff and fans.”
The decision was made in concert with Athletic Director Wood Selig, coaches, medical and public health experts and state and local officials, he said.
“I want to compliment Dr. Selig for being such a thoughtful colleague,” President Broderick said. “I know there are schools where this discussion has been complicated by other factors, but for Wood and me, it was just about health and safety.”
Selig said he hopes fall sports can be played in the spring, “but first and foremost it has to be safe for everyone involved and would also require NCAA approval.”
ODU is the 14th Football Bowl Subdivision school to announce it won’t play, following the University of Connecticut and the 12-team Mid-American Conference.
Field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball also won’t compete this fall. The volleyball team would have launched its inaugural season at ODU. Additionally, spring sports that play a modified fall season will also not play.
President Broderick said Old Dominion’s decision was made to protect not only student-athletes, but also the staff and the greater Hampton Roads community.
“This is just right thing to do for everyone involved,” Selig said. “After making this decision, I already feel a sense of relief.
“We’re not like the NBA. We can’t put our athletes and coaches and fans in a bubble, and we don’t have unlimited resources.”
Although most students have yet to return, many of ODU’s fall athletes are on campus, either practicing or preparing for fall practice. President Broderick said it was time to end the uncertainty, especially for student-athletes, who carry a heavy burden academically.
This decision applies to fall sports but does not include men’s and women’s basketball and swimming, which are set to compete this winter.
Other in-state Division I institutions such as James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond, George Mason University, the College of William and Mary, Norfolk State University and Hampton University have already announced they will not play in the fall.
Women’s Soccer Coach Angie Hind said President Broderick called her and other coaches seeking input. Hind told him she was most worried about interaction with other teams and the risk that would pose to her players.
“He asked me if I think we’re doing the right thing,” she said. “He wanted to know how the athletes feel.
“I know that doesn’t happen everywhere. I talked to some of my colleagues at other schools who said they’ve been left in the dark. The President made the right decision, and I think it’s outstanding that we all had a say.”
First-year football coach Ricky Rahne said the safety of his players is paramount.
“As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, our staff will continue to find creative and safe ways to develop our players,” he said. “The health and safety of our players will remain a priority for our football program and our University.”
ODU football season ticket holders will be contacted this week and asked to select one of three options: credit their ticket and seat membership payment to date toward the 2021 season, transfer their payment to date into a tax-deductible contribution to the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation or receive a refund.
Selig is encouraging ODU fans to turn their payments into donations, if they can afford to.
“We’re asking those who can help us to please do so,” he said. “Donations will be used to pay for scholarships for all of our athletes.
“Our fans have been so generous and loyal to us through the years. But we need their help this year more than ever.”
All fans who purchased season tickets for the inaugural season in S.B. Ballard Stadium in 2019 can reclaim their seats and location in 2021 regardless of whether they purchased tickets for the 2020 season.