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New England Collegiate Conference becomes latest small-school league to cancel fall sports

The New England Collegiate Conference suspended conference play during the upcoming fall semester on Wednesday because of the health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19.

The NECC has seven member schools — Bay Path, Becker, Eastern Nazarene, Elms, and Lesley in Massachusetts, as well as Mitchell College (Conn.) and New England College (N.H.). The conference sponsors men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball during the fall semester.

“This decision, while difficult to make and heartbreaking for our student-athletes, coaches, and campus communities, conveys our top priority — to ensure the health and safety of all,” said Becker president Nancy Crimmin, chair of the NECC Presidents Council. “The competition and comraderie that are part of athletic programs will surely be missed. The spirit and pride each institution have for their student-athletes and their teams will help lead us through this challenging time.”

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Becker athletic director Frank Millerick also announced the school is canceling its seasons for football and equestrian. Football competes in the Commonwealth Coast Conference, and equestrian in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association, but neither of those leagues have taken additional action.

Assuming the spread of the virus is contained and safety can be assured, NECC play will resume during the spring semester, the conference said in a release.

This NECC decision also affects the potential start of play for men’s and women’s basketball, and those schedules will also be altered for a second-semester start-date.

Rose parade canceled, bowl game still on

The 2021 Rose Parade has been canceled because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on planning for the New Year’s Day tradition in Pasadena, Calif., and the risk of spreading infections among its huge audience and participants, organizers said.

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association said the decision was put off until organizers were certain that safety restrictions would prevent staging of the 132nd parade.

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Planning for the Rose Bowl college football game that traditionally follows the parade is continuing, the association said. The Jan. 1 Rose Bowl football game would be a college football playoff semifinal this season.

The parade is held every Jan. 1 except when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday and the event is pushed to Jan. 2. Since its inception in 1891, the parade has only not occurred during the wartime years of 1942, 1943 and 1945, the association said.

“The health and well-being of our parade participants and guests, as well as that of our volunteer members, professional staff and partners, is our number one priority,” Bob Miller, the 2021 president of the association, said in a statement.


The association said it was working with broadcast partners and sponsors on an alternative celebration and promised details in the coming weeks.

Notre Dame ticket updates

Notre Dame isn’t selling single-game football tickets through its usual lottery this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Notre Dame officials said they were working on a seating plan that “will greatly reduce our capacity” as they try to incorporate distancing measures to keep spectators as safe as possible ... The University of Michigan says fewer fans, if any, will attend games at “The Big House” if the Wolverines play college football games this year. The athletic department says a final decision will be made after conferring with medical experts, the school’s leadership and the Big Ten Conference, along with government officials and agencies ... Tennessee reported multiple positive results for COVID-19 spanning “multiple sports,” according to a spokesman, after the university ran a batch of tests last week.

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NFL teams update fan policies

City of Philadelphia officials have clarified their ban on public events, opening up the possibility the Eagles would be allowed to have fans in the stadium if the city changes its rules before or during the season, assuming the NFL plays games this season. The city on Tuesday banned all large public events that require public permits through February 2021. Teams will be permitted to play without fans in Philadelphia ... The Green Bay Packers say they won’t admit fans to any training camp practices or preseason home games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Plans regarding attendance for regular-season games haven’t been announced yet. Season ticket holders have the of opting out of the chance to buy tickets this year without losing control of their tickets for next season. The Packers have already conceded their regular-season home games will have a “significantly reduced” capacity, if there are any spectators at all ... The Denver Broncos are telling season ticket holders that Empower Field at Mile High won’t be at full capacity this season because of the coronavirus outbreak and face masks will be required if local officials allow a limited number of fans to attend games to maintain social distancing. The Broncos told season ticket holders in a memo that they’ll get priority for any single-game tickets that are sold this season whether or not they opt for a full refund for 2020 or a credit for 2021.

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Del Mar cancels weekend racing

Del Mar has canceled racing for the upcoming weekend after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19. All the track’s riders and personnel who work in the jockeys’ room were tested a day earlier by San Diego County public health officials at the request of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Of the 15 positive tests, all were believed to be asymptomatic. Contact tracing procedures are underway. All but one of the riders who tested positive rode at the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet in Orange County ... A limited number of owners will be allowed at Saratoga on the day that their horse is entered to race. The New York Racing Association says the size of an ownership group will be limited to eight people who possess a license per horse. The application to attend must be received 24 hours in advance in order to reduce density and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Owners will have their temperatures checked and be required to wear a face covering. A limited number of owners will also be allowed in the track’s stable area if they provide a negative COVID-19 test result within seven days of a request ... USA Hockey has called off holding its world junior summer showcase, set to be held in Michigan in two weeks. With 44 players invited, the event was part of USA Hockey’s selection process in determining its team to compete at the world junior championships in Alberta in late December. Without citing the coronavirus pandemic, USA Hockey executive John Vanbiesbrouck said it was in everyone’s best interest to cancel the event.

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