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TCNJ cancels season for football, soccer, other high-contact sports

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Zach Wilhelm

Stevens Institute of Technology's Zach Wilhlem, back, wins a 5-1 decision against The College of New Jersey's Mark Gerstacker on Nov. 10.

The anticipation and excitement to get back to sports has to wait for fall athletes at The College of New Jersey.

TCNJ president Kathryn A. Foster issued a lengthy community letter Friday that addressed issues such as the return of employees and students, on-campus housing and buildings and student activities.

Among those issues, athletes will not be permitted to compete in high-contact sports during the fall semester to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

The canceled varsity sports seasons include football, soccer and field hockey. Intramural and club sports were also canceled. There was no mention of cross country or tennis or other fall varsity sports in the letter.

The students, however, will be allowed to attend in-person classes until Thanksgiving and then finish the semester remotely after the holiday break, the letter read.

Coaches and trainers are still allowed to arrange workouts and other individual fitness activities, according to the letter.

“We know how important activities beyond the classroom are to the TCNJ educational experience and how central any particular activity may be to student retention and success,” Foster said in the letter. “Student activities enliven the campus and bring great joy to community members and visitors.”

“I know how unfortunate and deeply disappointing this is for the many performers and athletes, coaches and supporters who were looking forward to a fall season. I look forward to it, too. Yet the science on COVID-19 finds that activities with high in-person contact or proximity have the greatest likelihood of broad and rapid virus spread, a circumstance that at TCNJ could mean shutdown of the campus.”

TCNJ, which competes in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, is a rival of Stockton. There has yet to be other NJAC programs to cancel the fall sports seasons, but TCNJ’s actions could start a trend to protect the student-athletes.

“It’s obviously very unfortunate for TCNJ and hopefully we don’t end up in the same boat, but you just have to kind of wait and see,” Stockton sports information director Chris Rollman said Friday evening. “We are going to try and have a fall season, unless things change and it becomes a safety issue.”

Rollman said that when the first NJAC school canceled in the spring, the other schools soon followed. Stockton plans to have a fall season, but Rollman said the coaches and players safety “is the main priority.”

Rollman said he talked with Stockton athletic director Kevin McHugh late Friday night. As of now, the rest of the NJAC schools plan to have a fall season, Rollman said.

“We will certainly be monitoring the situation and make adjustments as necessary,” Rollman said, “but at this time we are still going to attempt to have fall sports.”

Many Press-area athletes attend TCNJ and other NJAC schools, including Rowan, William Paterson and Rutgers-Camden.

“We seek to get back to these pursuits as soon as it is safe to do so,” Foster said. “If all goes well in the fall, we may be able to allow some performance and winter sports preparation.“

Contact: 609-272-7210

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