SSU Teams Cleared To Practice
The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has lifted the suspension of all sports being able to practice and have workouts. The suspension was lifted on September 14.
According to Savannah State University athletics director Opio Mashariki, all Tiger teams are eligible to practice at this time and most have already began their workouts.
“The volleyball, baseball, tennis, track & field and softball teams are practicing now while the football and basketball teams are having strength & conditioning sessions and skill drills,” he said. Mashariki added that the football team won’t start practicing until late October.
The second-year AD stated that teams are abiding by social distancing guidelines during their practice and workout sessions.
Although the conference has not released a spring sports schedule yet, SSU hopes to play some games as early as January 2021.
One factor that could be delaying the conference’s decision on fall spring sports is that when students go home for Thanksgiving break they wont return until January which could lead to a uptick in positive tests among the students and student-athletes.
In early September, the NCAA granted all Division II athletes who compete in fall sports can play up to their sport’s maximum permissible amount of competition and receive both an additional year of eligibility and a season of competition through a waiver the Division II Administrative Committee approved.
The committee also waived the Division II sports sponsorship and three-season requirement for schools and conferences for the 2020-21 academic year, citing the financial, scheduling and roster management challenges they are facing. This action does not impact the current contest and participant minimums for NCAA championship eligibility, however.
The waiver the Administrative Committee passed is similar to a pair of waivers it approved July 22, which granted all student athletes additional eligibility and season-of-competition opportunities if their team completes 50% or less of the sport’s Bylaw 17 maximum contests/dates of competition. The first waiver still applies for winter and spring sports. Fall sport athletes, through the waiver approved Wednesday, are now permitted to play up to their sport’s maximum permissible competition limit and retain the same eligibility opportunities the previous waiver offered. This includes an extension of eligibility.
To make sure those involved with SSU are safe, athletic COVID-19 testing is done on a bi-weekly basis at the university and will continue until November. “We test fifty percent of the student-athletes and athletic staff one week and then we test the other fifty percent of the student-athletes and athletic staff the following week,” said Mashariki.
Every morning, Savannah State student-athletes wake up and fill out a COVID symptoms questionnaire on their phones. This form creates a data path for the Athletic Training staff and strength and conditioning staff to keep up to date with anyone who might not be well, or might be showing signs of COVID. Everyone wears masks indoors and during workouts. (Some restrictions on mask wearing are loosed for some sports at various times in accordance with Centers for Disease Control Guidelines.)
In conjunction with the return of workouts and practices, Savannah State athletics will continue to test its student-athletes in accordance with the NCAA re-socialization plan.
The University has had their own precautions in place as well and to date, very few positive COVID tests have been reported on campus and of those reported isolation and quarantine have ensued. According to the SSU website, 31 SSU students have tested positive while six campus employees have tested positive, since August 1.
Edward Waters To Add Men’s Volleyball
Edward Waters College President & Chief Executive Officer, Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Dr. Paul A. Bryant recently announced the plan to start a men’s volleyball program, a 2021-2022 initiative that will be supported in part by a $100,000 grant from First Point Volleyball Foundation and the national governing body of volleyball in the United States, USA Volleyball.
The new Edward Waters men’s volleyball program is part of a national effort to bring the sport to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s).
Last year, six HBCUs announced the addition of men’s volleyball via a $1 million grant from First Point and USA Volleyball to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). Edward Waters College, upon its anticipated transition from the NAIA to the NCAA Division II level later this school year, expects to compete in the SIAC in its inaugural men’s volleyball season in 2021- 2022.
In July of 2019, Edward Waters College was extended a formal invitation to join the SIAC. The College is currently a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and competes in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). The Tigers compete as an NAIA Independent, but do have a scheduling agreement to compete against SIAC institutions. The SIAC is an NCAA Division II conference that is comprised of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, with all but one of its members located in the Southeastern United States. Edward Waters was previously a member of the SIAC from 1930 to 1935.