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America East reveals Return to Play plan

Basketball conference play to being Dec. 19-20; fall sports teams to play in the spring.
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 8:57 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - After months focused on cancellations and postponements, fans of Catamount Country can now finally start looking forward to actual games.

The America East Conference released a Return To Play plan on Monday for winter sports, and a plan to play fall sports in the spring. The headliner for many is men’s and women’s basketball.

Under the plan, teams will play a full 18-game conference schedule that will feature weekend series, where a team would host the same opponent on back-to-back days for two games on a Saturday and Sunday, starting the weekend of December 19th-20th.

Vermont’s current out-of-state travel restrictions would require almost any team traveling to UVM, or UVM returning from a road game, to quarantine. UVM Director of Athletics Jeff Schulman says the school has worked closely with state officials to work out a plan that would allow those games to take place.

“And the key is a really robust testing protocol.”, says Schulman. “We’re going to be testing our athletes three times per week. Any school that we are going to compete with or against is going to have to abide by the same type of testing protocol, and there will be very strict game management protocols and travel restrictions in place.

Essentially, we create little mini-bubbles around our teams as we go in for a competition. The teams only contact is with the event itself, with other student-athletes, coaches and staff that have agreed to the same testing protocols and otherwise there’s no interaction with the general public at all.”

And hearing the final part of that testing and travel plan, it should come as no surprise that Schulman revealed that, based on conversations with the Vermont Department of Health, there will be no fans allowed at games held at Patrick Gym as well as UVM men’s and women’s hockey games at Gutterson Fieldhouse. Schulman says that decision, to host games without fans, will likely be in effect for ‘the foreseeable future’, but the school will also continue to evaluate conditions.

Schulman says that full schedules for men’s and women’s basketball are expected to be released early next month, and Hockey East will be annoucing its plans for this season soon.

As for the two other winter sports offered by UVM, women’s swimming and diving will move to the spring. Indoor track and field will not take place, but Schulman says the vast majority of those student-athletes also compete in outdoor track or cross-country and so will have other opportunities to compete this school year.

When it comes to UVM’s fall sports, cross country, field hockey and men’s and women’s soccer will all hold conference-only seasons in the spring. Men’s and women’s soccer will play six game regular seasons starting in late February and early March with the playoffs in early April. Field Hockey will play an eight game season starting in mid-March, and cross country will hold a championship meet on March 5th.

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