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Brandeis is latest Boston-area college to cancel fall sports

Brandeis University on Tuesday became the latest Boston-area college to cancel fall sports as new coronavirus cases continue to surge in many states across the country less than two months before higher education institutions are scheduled to reopen.

Brandeis athletic director Lauren Haynie sent an email to all students.

“The department considered all options and planned extensively for ways for us to be able to compete this season,” Haynie wrote. “Based on the federal, state and campus information and guidelines that we have in place today, the decision to not participate in fall intercollegiate athletics was ultimately made with the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff members as our top priority.”

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Brandeis, located in Waltham, has seven fall teams: men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s tennis. On July 8, the same day the Ivy League announced it would not hold fall sports, Brandeis’s conference, the University Athletic Association, announced that the fall conference schedule would not be viable.

“It definitely isn’t what I was expecting, but you can only control what you can control,” said women’s soccer coach Mary Shimko, whose first day as head coach was June 15, following three years as an assistant. “It became much more apparent in the last couple weeks that it didn’t make sense to compete this fall.”

Brandeis’s announcement comes one day after the Patriot League canceled all fall sports.

Shimko held a team meeting Tuesday evening via Zoom and spoke separately with the captains before addressing the whole group. Like last spring’s senior athletes, they, too, may never again play a game with their teammates.

“We talked about how they were feeling and how difficult it is to wrap your head around the fact that you’ll never be able to compete alongside them again.”

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Haynie’s email said the school is looking for ways fall student-athletes can practice in some capacity, if state guidelines allow it. Last week, the NCAA agreed to preserve a year of eligibility for fall athletes unable to compete. Brandeis is also developing plans of actions for winter sports that start their seasons in October and November.