College Sports

Williams College joins Bowdoin in canceling 2020 fall sports season

Jake Haase of Williams men's lacrosse. Kris Dufour/Williams College Athletics

Williams College on Monday became the second school in the New England Small College Athletic Conference to announce that it will not participate in fall athletics amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter written to the Williams community on the school’s website, President Maud S. Manel said that while students will be allowed to return to campus in the fall for in-person learning and that sports teams will be able to practice in small groups, traveling and competing in games will not be allowed.

The Division 3 school in Williamstown joins Bowdoin College, also a NESCAC member, and UMass-Boston as New England-area institutions that have announced they will sit out the fall season.


“Our decision has been guided by the utmost attention to safety protocols to ensure the health and safety of our athletes, coaches, staff and community,” said Manel in the letter. “Knowing how important athletics is in the lives of many students, we hope to provide opportunities for team engagement.

“Teams will be able to practice outside in small groups if they adhere to social distancing guidelines, and may progress to more game-like practice activities if conditions improve.”

Williams said it will follow the three-phased return to sports recommended by the NCAA. In Phase 1, practice groups will be limited to 10 people, social distancing will be required, face coverings will be worn when social distancing cannot be implemented, and equipment will not be shared.

Workout groups may increase in size during Phase 2 and equipment may be shared. In Phase 3, which the school acknowledged may not happen during the fall semester, athletes can work out in larger groups, share equipment, and organize group activities and competition.

The school also said it is hopeful that winter sports team can begin practicing on Oct. 15, but a decision on playing will not be made until later in the fall. Bowdoin last week announced that it will not compete in athletics until at least Jan. 1, 2021.


Williams is one of three NESCAC schools l in Massachusetts. The other two, Amherst and Tufts, have not announced a plan for the fall semester.

“No decision about fall athletics has been made yet,” Tufts said in a statement. “We are working closely with our NESCAC partners, public health officials, and the NCAA to determine how and when it will be safe for varsity sport student-athletes, coaches, and staff to return to practice and competition.”


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