December 30, 2020
SMU women’s basketball will not continue 2020-21 season
How the Mustangs' decision compares to similar team opt-outs
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After six games, SMU women’s basketball opted out of the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, becoming the 14th Division I team in the fifth different conference to cease competition.
“While all agreed that SMU had taken all possible steps and precautions to keep them healthy and safe, ultimately the women decided that the totality of the circumstances was resulting in an in-season experience that they did not wish to prolong,” a statement from the university said.
Athletic director Rick Hart added in the statement, “This was not a decision our student-athletes took lightly. It was a difficult decision for them to make. That said, we support them, as we have supported the choices of our student-athletes in all sports whether they have elected to compete or to opt out. Our priority is their health, safety and wellbeing.”
The player-driven effort to end play mirrors that of Duke, which ended its season on Friday. Not only is spreading COVID-19 within the program a concern, but players assessing their roles in the greater community also impacted their decision.
“This thing is on the rise in the U.S., and are you going to stop it or are you going to contribute?” said Duke junior Miela Goodchild’s mother, Michelle. “Duke’s just said we are not going to be responsible for that, and I stand by them.”
Before the season began, CSUN spearheaded its own version of this action, as six of the 12 available players chose to sit out the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Thanks to the NCAA’s October decision, most student-athletes will maintain this year of eligibility whether they play or not.
“As a team, we came to the difficult decision that we will not compete this year,” a statement from the CSUN players said. “Since there are only six of us and the physical health concerns from the wear and tear of a full season with back-to-back competition, we are prioritizing our health and safety during this global pandemic.”
SMU’s decision comes in the same week as fellow American Athletic Conference teams Temple, Tulane, UCF and Memphis have all had league games postponed due to various issues related to COVID-19.