Even though positive COVID-19 numbers on Lipscomb’s campus have risen in recent weeks, Lipscomb athletic director Philip Hutcheson remains positive about how Lipscomb athletics has managed the pandemic this fall.
“I think the semester has gone really well considering where we are at,” said Hutcheson. “The NCAA made some decisions athletically in terms of how we were going to have to deal with this.”
While much of Lipscomb athletics’ success with the COVID pandemic is due to the vigilance of the staff, coaches, and players, some pressing concerns were alleviated by some of the NCAA’s decisions.
“We weren’t sure starting out if we were going to have fall sports or not, and then they [the NCAA] decided not to have fall sports,” said Hutcheson. “That took care of a lot of the questions we had about logistics and how to handle events and crowds and that sort of thing.”
Fall sports may have been canceled, but practices and preparations for the spring continue, and so adjustments have had to be made to reduce the spread of the virus.
“We’re still trying to deal with distancing, cleaning things a lot more often, or using different routing for how we come in and out of places,” said Hutcheson. “One of the things that’s different for athletes compared to the rest of the student body is we do a lot of testing of our athletes. Depending on the sport they play, they’re classified as either a high contact sport, medium contact, low contact. So basketball, for instance, is a high contact sport. They test more often. ”
With these protocols, athletics has been able to keep case numbers low and prevent outbreaks on the teams.
COVID-19 created a fall like no other in Lipscomb history. This was not the year athletics was expecting, however, the pandemic may actually serve to benefit some Bison teams.
“We have a couple of teams that are younger teams that were fall sports teams that I think really it [the delayed seasons] actually helped them in terms of just being able to practice and get used to college and that sort of thing,” said Hutcheson. “So I think we’ll see some benefit there.”
It’s now been eight months without Bisons in action, but the outlook is bright moving forward, as Athletics looks to resume competitions beginning November 25th with basketball. There will continue to be challenges with COVID-19, but following the example of many other leagues that have been in action can provide a blueprint for Lipscomb to move forward safely.