BURLINGTON, Ont. – The Lakehead Thunderwolves seasons appear to be over before they even began.
Ontario University Athletics on Thursday announced the cancellation of all sanctioned sport programming and championships through March 31, 2021.
The move means men’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, wrestling, track and field, cross country and Nordic skiing seasons will not happen.
It wasn’t an easy decision said Dr. Debrorah MacLatchy, chair of the OUA’s board of directors, in a release.
“The health of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, and fans remains OUA’s number one priority,” MacLatchy said.
“After significant consultation with our members and advisors, we have determined that OUA sport cannot be delivered prior to March 31.”
The governing body for university sports in the province said the recent wave of COVID-19 cases in parts of Ontario was the final straw.
While we would love nothing more than to see our student-athletes back on the field of play and participating in OUA-sanctioned competition during the 2nd Term, we are not yet at a place where that can occur safely,” said Gord Grace, OUA president and CEO. “
As disappointing as that reality is, I am confident that our participants will continue to demonstrate their resolve and determination through these exceptional circumstances and as we work toward an eventual safe return to competition."
Individual schools are permitted to determine their return-to-train guidelines on their respective campuses and their involvement in member-driven competitions and exhibition games, but must respect both school policy and public health guidelines.
The OUA said they reserve the right to adjust the decision on an on-going basis.
“We recognize how disappointing this is to many, especially our student-athletes, but these are unprecedented times. We are committed to delivering OUA Sport once it is safe to do so,” MacLatchy said.
USports has also cancelled all national championships for the second term. Both bodies had previously cancelled all competition until at least Jan. 1.
“A decision like this is never easy to make,” Grace said.
“To continue to uphold the health and safety of all participants, however, it remains a necessary step to take, and I commend the OUA Board of Directors for their work and decision-making throughout this process.”