Presque Isle, ME – Officials with the University of Maine at Presque Isle announced Tuesday that they plan to bring back winter sports teams, which consist of men's and women's basketball, on January 16th. The student athletes will follow campus protocols for returning to campus, which includes testing on arrival and quarantining until a negative test result is returned.
"The safety of our student athletes and athletics staff has been our highest priority in all of our decisions around athletics activities this academic year," UMPI President Ray Rice said. "Everyone in Athletics worked incredibly hard this fall to follow health and safety protocols so they could practice and play safely and we know those efforts will be redoubled this spring to ensure a safe winter season for UMPI Athletics."
Men's and women's basketball teams will follow the most current State of Maine and NCAA guidance. Student athletes will also go through a 7-10 day acclimation period set by the NCAA for teams that have had a long layoff since their last practice. Basketball had their last practices on November 5th, when athletic and campus leadership temporarily suspended athletics to ensure a safe return home for student athletes, as in-person classes wrapped up.
UMPI had a successful fall semester with nearly 250 practices amongst the ten teams that practiced this fall (men's golf, women's volleyball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, baseball, and softball). The Owls were also able to compete in a select few contests this fall in their fall sports. UMPI Athletics had no COVID cases related to athletic activity during the fall semester that started in late August.
"We are very proud of our student athletes, coaches, and staff for their dedication to the safety protocols we put in place to have athletics this fall and do it safely," said Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation Dan Kane, reflecting on this past semester. "We will continue to monitor and evaluate the current state of COVID-19. While making decisions we will always make our student athletes' physical and mental health our top priority."
With their return to campus on January 16th, the Owls are setting their eyes on starting games in early February. UMPI will continue to evaluate the most up-to-date information and will adjust as needed to make appropriate decisions for athletic competition. UMPI still plans on having spring athletics and will have more details on specific practice start dates as campus get closer to the start of spring semester classes.
"We know this year has been difficult on our student athletes," Kane said, "however, I would like to thank all of our Owls for their patience as we work tirelessly to make the best decisions possible during these difficult times."