The Southern Athletic Association (SAA), which Millsaps is a longtime member of, has officially announced the cancellation of all sports for the fall semester.
The Southern Athletic Association’s Presidents’ Council has decided to suspend all conference athletic competition through the 2020 fall season. pic.twitter.com/HNOpFTwudI
— SAA Sports (@SAA_Sports) July 16, 2020
Millsaps Athletics Director Aaron Pelch told News Mississippi that he agrees with the conference’s decision, yet, as a former college athlete himself, he feels for the students and coaches who were getting ready for their fall season.
“What the SAA has done, I think it’s the right thing,” Pelch said. “I think today is a really tough day for our campus community, our student-athletes, and all of our coaches.”
The SAA stretches across seven states—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas—creating safety concerns that the conference couldn’t overcome.
“I think when you have a conference that is as geographically diverse as ours is…every city and every state has different guidelines and needs and different responses to what’s going on,” Pelch explained.
Although there will be no SAA sports this calendar year, Pelch expects all fall sports teams to be able to compete come spring of 2021, even if that means trying to convince the NCAA to delay their fall championships for one semester.
“We are really committed to making sure that these fall sports that are losing their season are able to compete and play for a championship in the spring,” Pelch said. “We are going to try and do our best to urge the NCAA to potentially move some of the championships from the fall to the spring. Whether that will be fruitful or not, who knows, with the NCAA, but I think if enough colleges and universities get on board, I’m not sure they can stop that.”
The announcement is one that was subconsciously expected as COVID-19 numbers continue to surge throughout the nation, however, it is a devastating blow to DIII football fans across the south—especially Millsaps fans.
The SAA becomes yet another Division III conference to completely cancel sports for the fall of 2020. Under ordinances recently introduced by the NCAA, all players who lose their seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic will be granted an additional year of eligibility.