As part of its COVID-19 safety plan, Walla Walla University has announced that it will withdraw from the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC) schedules for men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and men’s soccer for the 2020-2021 academic year.
The decision follows careful review by the university’s COVID-19 Response Task Force and Athletics Department, and significant consultation with WWU President John McVay and CCC Commissioner Rob Cashell. WWU athletes were informed of the decision over the weekend, just prior to the conclusion of the university’s fall academic quarter.
“Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of Walla Walla University students, faculty and staff,” said McVay. “I am disappointed that we are unable to participate in these athletic seasons, as well as so many other cherished WWU activities and traditions. This pandemic is challenging, and we are doing our best to enable our students to continue their academic programs in a safe and supportive environment. While I am disappointed now, I know I join countless others in looking forward to a time when normal activities can resume.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect each institution and community differently, and we certainly respect the decision by Walla Walla University to opt out of CCC men's and women's basketball, volleyball and men's soccer for the 2020-2021 season,” stated CCC Commissioner Robert Cashell. “None of these choices come easy, but as a conference we fully support the need for campus leadership to do what they feel is best as we all continue to navigate the situation.”
The women’s volleyball and men’s soccer seasons were already delayed from normal fall competition, and university officials were monitoring closely to determine what might be possible for winter sports like basketball. These teams have not practiced for the last two weeks due to concerns over the number of COVID-19 cases in Walla Walla County, and restrictions seemed likely to continue.
The university’s decision to withdraw from the CCC volleyball, soccer, and basketball schedules is part of a larger effort to solidify plans for academics and student life so that students could be adequately prepared for winter quarter.
“It is increasingly clear to us that aggressive COVID-19 safety measures will still be needed during winter quarter,” says Doug Tilstra, WWU vice president for Student Life. “After reviewing guidance from health and safety experts, noting where we are with local infection spread and anticipating a need for university safety measures well into winter quarter, we felt it was right to make this decision now. We wanted to alert our student-athletes so they would know how to plan.”
Currently, WWU plans to participate in the CCC’s cross-country and golf schedules for this academic year and will begin looking ahead to 2021-2022 seasons for Wolves Athletics. Members of the teams affected by the withdrawal may remain enrolled in classes and will continue to receive support from the university’s Athletics Department.
“The Wolves Athletic Department has worked closely with our COVID-19 Response Task Force on a safe restart plan for our program. Throughout the summer and fall quarter, we strove to provide safe means for our student-athletes to train, practice, and play,” says Interim Athletic Director Paul Starkebaum. “I want to thank the task force for their efforts to evaluate and improve our plans over the last five months.
“It was disappointing to withdraw from CCC schedules this year,” Starkebaum adds. “Our student-athletes, coaches and athletic staff put in a great effort to adapt to state, county and campus guidelines to serve our teams and keep our campus safe. We will continue to work towards a safe restart of our athletic program.”
Founded in 1892, WWU is a private, Seventh-day Adventist university located in southeastern Washington State that operates from five campuses: College Place, Washington; Anacortes, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Missoula, Montana; and Billings, Montana. WWU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in more than 100 areas of study with more than 200 faculty members and an average enrollment of 1,800 students. WWU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities and the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges, and Universities. WWU is one of the 10 founding members of the Independent Colleges of Washington.
WWU joined the Cascade Collegiate Conference in 2014 and is one of 23 member colleges and universities in the league. Member schools are located in Arizona, British Columbia, Canada, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The CCC offers seven men’s sports (baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, track and field, and wrestling) and eight women’s sports (basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling). Athletic opportunities at WWU include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
The athletics program at WWU provides the opportunity for student athletes to develop and exercise their athletic gifts, learn leadership skills, build lasting relationships, and grow spiritually. Maintaining a mission-centered program, the WWU athletics program promotes a healthy, balanced life—body, mind, and soul—for their athletes through sport.
Posted Nov. 24, 2020