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Central Washington University

CWU and GNAC Suspend Athletic Competitions Through Nov. 30 Due to COVID-19 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Central Washington University has announced that it will suspend all intercollegiate athletic competition through Nov. 30. The decision is a result of today’s announcement by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) CEO Board.

Due to continuing health and safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference’s CEO Board, comprised of the presidents of GNAC-affiliated schools, and athletic directors, decided it was best to cancel all conference athletic events and championships scheduled for the fall quarter.

“I’m disappointed, as I know our student-athletes are — especially our seniors — and all members of Wildcat Nation,” said CWU President James L. Gaudino. “But the conference is making the appropriate decision, placing a priority on the health and safety of everyone involved in our athletic programs. CWU, and all of our conference-member schools, will stay focused on our primary purpose and commitment: to help student-athletes achieve their goal of earning a meaningful degree from Central.”

Prior to the announcement, CWU administrators and coaches conducted a video conference with all of the fall student-athletes.

“Over the past few months, our athletics staff has diligently explored a multitude of scenarios and options for a safe return to play, but the challenges became insurmountable as an institution and a conference,” said Dennis Francois, CWU Director of Athletics. 

“The enormity of this decision and its impact on our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans is crushing for all of us, not to mention its impact on our university, the Ellensburg community, and our alumni,” he continued. “I am, however, very encouraged by our conference’s commitment to engage in purposeful discussion regarding the feasibility of a 2021 spring championship season for our fall sports.”

Today’s announcement, which affects all 17 sports sponsored by the GNAC, precludes contests of any kind against outside competition, regardless of whether a sport is in the championship or non-championship segment of its playing calendar. The CEO Board said conference members will be allowed to make their own decisions regarding organized practice activities.

“This was not a decision taken lightly, but it’s one the board believes is in the best interests of student-athletes and staff,” GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund said. “There is no greater priority than the health and well-being of our student-athletes, and this action is reflective of the GNAC’s commitment to this prevailing principle.”

Haglund said the GNAC understands the disappointment and sorrow the cancellation will bring to student-athletes, particularly the seniors, and the conference empathizes with everyone who is affected by the decision. 

“We can only ask for their thoughtful understanding during these challenging and unprecedented times,” he said.

Haglund added that conference governance groups are discussing the possibility of providing alternate competition opportunities for the conference’s fall championship sports, including the feasibility of playing in the spring. 

For more information about the suspension of the fall sports season, visit wildcatsports.com or gnacsports.com.


Media contact: Tyler Unsicker, CWU Athletics; 801-520-5742, Tyler.unsicker@cwu.edu.

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