Dave Martin wants the student-athletes at the University of Scranton to have a chance to compete.
Under a plan announced Monday by the Landmark Conference to resume sports in the spring semester, Martin feels that can happen safely.
On Tuesday, Scranton said it intends to move forward with winter sports, starting early next month.
“Our student-athletes have been anxious and wanted to have an opportunity to do what they love,” said Martin, Scranton’s executive director of athletics. “I’m appreciative of our Landmark Conference presidents and the folks at Scranton. Protocols have been developed and we have a plan that we feel good about. We’re excited to move forward.”
Under the Landmark Conference’s plan, men’s and women’s basketball will begin a conference-only schedule Feb. 5. A league champion will be crowned and receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. The conference is finalizing the schedule and expects to release it early next week.
“That should give us enough time to get the nine games in that the NCAA is requiring to qualify for the NCAA tournament,” Martin said.
As far as spectators, the conference said fans will not be allowed at any sporting event. Martin said all Scranton games will be live-streamed.
Men’s and women’s swimming and diving will hold championships over a three-weekend period, beginning Feb. 13 at different campus sites. Times and scores will be compiled to determine the top finishers in each event and a league team champion.
Fall sports will hold a nontraditional season, beginning in March. Spring sports will have their seasons begin in March and April.
Scranton also has a wrestling team, but the Landmark Conference does not sponsor the sport. It is uncertain whether the team will compete, but conversations are ongoing, according to Martin.
Multiple safety precautions are in place for Scranton’s student-athletes.
All must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of returning to campus. They will wear masks for all practices and games. Temperature and symptom checks will be made prior to whenever the teams gather. The basketball teams will be tested three times per week and on game days. If someone tests positive, the team won’t compete.
“The (athletic directors) of our schools have been meeting twice a week for probably the last nine months. Our athletic trainers have been meeting weekly,” Martin said. “We’ve put together a pretty comprehensive plan. We have COVID-19 game day policies. One of the things the presidents felt good about is the fact that all the institutions are going to be following the same protocols and making sure we’re all doing the same things on game day.”
While excited Scranton teams will get to play, Martin cautioned it can change in an instant.
“We’ve worked hard to move forward,” Martin said. “But at any moment we feel it becomes unsafe or things take a turn for the worse, it’s understood that any one of our schools can pull the plug. We’re hoping that doesn’t happen. Hopefully, our kids are going to have a chance to compete.”
During more than 30 years at The Times-Tribune, Scott has covered everything from high schools to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. His current beats include motor sports, local colleges, high school cross country and high school baseball. He also is a copy editor and page designer. His articles have won awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, Eastern Motorsports Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Pro Chapter and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Keystone Press. He also has been honored by the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League and the Minor League Football Alliance. In 2016, he was presented the Media Service Award by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. A Long Island, New York, native, Scott graduated from the University of Scranton in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. He lives in Peckville with his wife, Andrea, and daughters, Bridget and Emily. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100, x5109; or @swalshTT on Twitter