By Jimmy Muniz and Brianna Lopez
Barry University’s sports program is on the fritz due to the COVID-19 pandemic which could result in every sport conducting their season at the exact same time.
Director of Athletic Communications Dennis Jezek Jr. told The Buccaneer that this is a proposed plan for Barry University athletics this semester since each team’s season was stalled as of March 2020.
On Feb. 5, Jezek told The Buccaneer that the only teams cleared to complete their season are men’s and women’s basketball. This information was confirmed by the Sunshine State Conference President Council, which decided on Dec. 10 that “conference institutions may compete in basketball…this includes both [men and women basketball] starting prior to Feb. 15, 2021.”
Women’s basketball had their first home game on Feb. 10 against Florida Tech and Barry garnered the win of 68-54.
Emma Hergot, a senior forward at Barry, expressed her excitement about the upcoming season.
“I am really looking forward to it. We have a good team this season and I am excited to see how we play together in games,” said Hergot.
Despite this excitement, the team faces challenges up ahead as the late start to the conference schedule does not accommodate qualification for the NCAA Division II basketball tournament.
According to Jezek, teams need a total of 11 games to qualify for the tournament. The current conference schedule only allows eight games.
In addition, not every team in the conference is playing. So, the teams will end up playing the same opponents multiple times throughout the season.
Beyond basketball, there has not been any official confirmation that any of the other sports teams will have a full season. Everything, Jezek notes, is up in the air. However, while the teams prepare for their potential seasons, many guidelines have been put in place to allow for a safe season.
The protocol includes:
Masks on at all times, especially during all practices
No fans allowed at any of the games, assuming games happen
Only the teams and the administrators — score boards, stats, etc. official people
Everyone, except players on courts and diamonds, has to be masked up, including bench and scorer’s table while socially distancing
Hergot wishes spectators were allowed at the games, at least in a socially distant format. “Having fans adds to the atmosphere of the game,” said Hergot. “Without fans, the teams have to recreate that atmosphere themselves.”
Although there will be no spectators, fans will still be able to stream all games live. Jezek notes that this may look a little different, depending on the number of people allowed in the gym and how many camera operators they can have.
However, because there are no fans allowed, the NCAA altered the rules, so teams are able to utilize outside areas for extra seating for team members, officials and work study students. For baseball, the benches outside of home plate will be utilized for people to sit.
There will also be a cap on the number of people in the dugout, although they are unsure of what this number will be. Some players will have to go to outside seating areas.
Despite the new protocols put in place, fans of Barry athletics can expect a different, yet competitive season for the sports that get a chance to play.