ACAC Will Continue to Explore Sport Delivery Opportunities for Winter 2021
Alberta colleges are not giving up on sport to give their student-athletes an opportunity to compete during the winter and the spring of 2021. On October 15, 2020 during a Special General Meeting, the ACAC Conference Council supported a recommendation from the ACAC’s Covid-19 Planning Task Force and voted against cancelling the winter sports season. There was a renewed commitment expressed to trying to find a way to hold a condensed winter season for a number of sports.
“Our student-athletes are telling us that any sport is better than no sport,” said ACAC CEO Mark Kosak. “They’re training, their minds are focused on wanting to play their sport and hopefully we can find a way to offer them some level of competition.
“The decision we made on October 15th was essentially to not cancel. There was a motion put forward to essentially cancel the whole year, and it was defeated. We’ve been given support by our membership, overwhelmingly, to continue to explore what’s possible.”
This decision by the ACAC’s member institutions to continue to work towards a modified solution for some sort of competitive sport and providing a safe environment to do so, shows that all of the institutions recognize that sport in some form is important in the fabric of the physical and mental well being of student life.
The ACAC has been in regular consultation with Alberta Health Services and was working on the development of a plan to safely deliver ACAC sport under strict AHS Return to Sport protocols when revised and far less restrictive guidelines were unexpectedly released by AHS on October 15, 2020. The ACAC Conference Council agreed to endorse the Task Force’s planning efforts and further study the implications and opportunities facilitated by these new guidelines.
The new guidelines allow for more regular games, something which could make a winter season possible.
It wouldn’t be a normal season, to be clear. An agreement was also unanimous to withdraw the ACAC from participation in all 2021 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Championships. The health concerns and logistical complexities involved in pan-provincial travel for ACAC student-athletes and teams was determined to be an unnecessary and unwarranted risk under the current conditions of the pandemic. Furthermore, with the elimination of CCAA qualification deadlines, meaning the schedules for teams playing in the province could stretch into March or even April.
The two ACAC host institutions of 2021 CCAA National Championships (Badminton at NAIT; Men’s Basketball at SAIT) understand and support this decision.
That could be crucial.
“What you might see in January, and it is just a projected possibility but it’s a strong possibility, but maybe in hockey or basketball or volleyball you’d play an opponent on a weekend and you’d play them two times, maybe in two locations, maybe in one,” Kosak said. “Then, you’d take the subsequent weekend off and you’d keep training and keep practising and then the next weekend after that, you’d play a different opponent.
“It gives a lot of gap time between opponents so if there is an outbreak we could contain it, identify where the source is and prevent spreading it.”
The ACAC is continuing to explore options for the spring seasons as well. Soccer, cross-country running and golf have been tentatively rescheduled from fall to spring, and member institutions continue to maintain the prerogative to withdraw from 2020-21 ACAC sport competition at any time without penalty based upon campus and community circumstances, and student-athletes will not lose a year of eligibility.
The ACAC previously decided to cancel the Fall 2020 season of competition, and tentatively reschedule Fall sports (soccer, cross country running and golf) to Spring 2021. Two semester sports (basketball, volleyball, hockey) and Winter semester sports (badminton, curling, futsal, indoor track) were proposed for a condensed schedule in the Winter 2021 semester.
The ACAC reaffirms that any decisions to proceed with post-secondary sport in 2021 will be reached with the input of the Senior Administration at each ACAC campus, and under the advice of AHS. At no time will the ACAC compromise the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes, ACAC stakeholders and the community at large.
“The reason why our membership was supportive is we have been consulting with the government and AHS in particular. They’ve been listening to our concerns,” Kosak said. “The Return to Sport protocols are highly restrictive, but they’re all there for the right reasons.
“AHS is not telling us to shut down sport. They’re encouraging us and helping us with ways that we can deliver sport.”
For more ACAC information, contact:
Mark Kosak, CEO
(403) 875-7329; firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference:
Established in 1964 when the founding organization and predecessor to the ACAC, the Western Inter-College Conference (WICC), came into existence with a mandate to regulate, coordinate and promote activities in two major areas – athletics and fine arts. Renamed and incorporated in July 1981 as the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, the members include the four of the five charter members of the ACAC – NAIT, SAIT, Lethbridge Junior College and Camrose Lutheran Junior College, and subsequent members, Red Deer College, Medicine Hat College, Grande Prairie Regional College, Lakeland College, Keyano College, Portage College, Olds College, Concordia University of Edmonton, The King’s University College, Ambrose University, St. Mary’s University, Prairie College, and Briercrest College.
Briercrest College, located in southern Saskatchewan, is the only non-Alberta institution involved in the Conference.
Governance of the ACAC is conducted by a Conference Council consisting of representatives from each of the member institutions, meeting twice annually. An executive committee of seven elected officials has the authority to govern in the interim. The daily business of the Conference is mainly conducted from its offices in Edmonton where an a Coordinator of Finance & Administration and a Operations Manager are employed. The Chief Executive Officer is based out of Calgary while the Conference Commissioner is also located in Edmonton. Full-time staff positions are augmented by contracted individuals who support the ACAC as Conference Writer, ACAC Statistician, and Communications Coordinator.
Base funding for the operations of the ACAC are derived from its membership through a general and individual activity assessments. This base funding is augmented by an annual grant received from the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Sports Connection.