FARGO — Athletic competitions won’t happen at North Dakota State for the rest of this school year after the Summit League announced Friday, March 13, that all spring sports have been canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The cancellation includes all nonconference, conference and championship competitions through the end of the school year, announced Summit League commissioner Tom Douple.
“From a competition standpoint, we are done,” said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen. “We are not going to play anymore conference or nonconference games or any postseason tournaments. Those are all canceled for the rest of this academic year.”
The Summit League had suspended the spring sports season Thursday.
“The decision (Thursday) to suspend spring sports for the month of March gave the League roughly 24 hours to collect as much information as possible,” Douple said in a Friday news release. “After we imposed the suspension, the NCAA announced the cancellation of all its spring championship events.
“Based upon that announcement and discussions with members of our Summit League Presidents’ Council (Thursday) night and into (Friday) morning, we determined it is in the best interest of our student-athletes, our staffs, and our fans to proceed with cancelling all spring competitions.”
Larsen said NDSU has canceled all spring practices and strength and conditioning workouts through March 30.
“Then we will re-evaluate at that point,” Larsen said.
Larsen said NDSU’s Pro Day remains scheduled for March 26, for now. Players expected to work out for NFL scouts are offensive lineman Zack Johnson, tight end Ben Ellefson, cornerback Marquise Bridges, safety James Hendricks, running backs Ty Brooks and Dimitri Williams, receiver Jimmy Kepouros, defensive tackle Cole Karcz and defensive end Derrek Tuszka. Tuszka participated in the NFL Scouting Combine near the end of February.
“There are a lot of moving parts there depending on what the NFL does,” Larsen said. “I know the NFL has called back some of their scouts. That will be a big driver of it. … As of right now it’s scheduled as is, but there could be some adjustments. It’s still a little fluid.”
Larsen said one option could include having the pro day closed to the public with only scouts and participants allowed.
“We’ll continue to be in contact with the NFL and their scouts and kind of take their lead a little bit on format and whether in person or otherwise,” Larsen said. “So many of the things that we have planned, there has to be contingencies and flexibilities built in because things could change at a moment’s notice.”
Spring football won’t start on March 25 as planned. Larsen said those workouts could resume after March 30.
“After that, we will play it by ear,” Larsen said. “We’ll make decisions based on everybody’s health and safety.”
Larsen said the tough part is watching student-athletes have their winter seasons cut short or the spring sports not being able to compete altogether.
“I get to see every day how hard they work,” Larsen said. “The time, the energy, the sacrifice, you name it. To have that kind of taken away from them, that’s hard. … The one thing I will say that’s been great about our student-athletes is I think they understand the bigger picture. Sometimes things happen, but it’s for the greater good.”
I think they all get it. It doesn’t make it sting any less. It doesn’t make it any easier, but I think they at least understand that part of it.”