SLC details COVID plan

Published 9:15 am Thursday, August 19, 2021

On Wednesday the Southland Conference came out with its official COVID-19 game plan.

Following the lead of other leagues, including the Southeastern Conference, all games missed because of COVID protocol will be subject to forfeit. This will be for all games in all sports, including league games and tournaments.

The SLC announced that the policy was subject to change based on national, statewide and local medical conditions, along with any directives from the NCAA.

In the past, the NCAA has considered forfeits to be no contests. However, a team forced to forfeit due to COVID reasons would have that reflected in the league standings and tournament seedings, according to the Southland news release.

“With the full support of the Southland’s presidential Board of Directors, and with normal playing formats that won’t accommodate the necessary schedule changes we experienced last year, moving games at this point is not an option,” SLC Commissioner Tom Burnett said in the statement. “We’d much rather see our teams compete at their full potential in the year ahead and hope we can avoid any unfortunate forfeitures.

“Further, we continue to encourage all Southland participants to seek professional medical guidance as it relates to vaccine opportunities, including those readily accessible on each of our member campuses.”

This is in effect for the 2021-2022 competition year.

Last winter and spring a number of conference games in all sports were lost due to COVID. At the time, the Southland developed a points system instead of forfeits, which at times was confusing.

On Monday, the American Press asked the Southland if it had an official policy for the fall. At the time league officials said they were working to redefine their policy and would have one in the next two days.

McNeese State officials said Tuesday they had not received a first policy from the league.

The Cowboys football team set up an informational meeting with a local doctor Sunday in an effort to answer players’ lingering questions. Hunter Martin, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine at Mc-Neese, said unvaccinated athletes are tested based on local numbers.

“If you are in a high area of COVID you get tested three times a week,” Martin said. “If you are in a medium area it is twice and in a low area it is once. We are in a high area.”

Martin said roughly half of the McNeese football team is fully vaccinated and others are in the process. He said he hopes the number is about 60 percent by Sept. 1

Unlike last year, the SLC will not establish team roster or positional minimums in order for teams to be allowed to play league games.

McNeese opens the season Sept. 4 at home against West Florida, the defending Division II national champion.