COVID-19 prompts junior colleges to push for cancellation of sports
PHOENIX – The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, as administrators from the district await a decision to be made next week by chancellor Steven Gonzales.
Despite reports of the cancellation being completed Thursday morning, Matt Hasson, the chief communications officer for the Maricopa County Community Colleges District, said there is “no decision to be made yet” on the matter.
“With COVID going on, our primary focus is our students’ and community’s health, so that’ll be our guiding principle in every decision we make,” he said. “Our 10 college presidents have forwarded a recommendation to our leadership, and we’ll anticipate a decision being made next week.”
More than 200,000 students attend schools in the district. Approximately 1,000 are athletes.
The recommendation comes after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across Arizona, adding 3,056 positive cases on Thursday. The total number of cases in the state is now above 63,000, with 1,490 deaths.
In response to the surge, Gov. Doug Ducey allowed local governments to set their own requirements for face coverings. Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to issue a mandate that all residents wear masks in public in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus.
Joel Enfinger, a golfer who committed to Scottsdale Community College, recently moved from Idaho to Arizona for the 2020-21 season.
“It sounds pretty certain that it’s going to be canceled, unfortunately,” he said. “I took a big risk to come out here and be on my own with no family.”
If the recommendation from the schools is approved by leadership, all athletics in the district will be suspended until further notice.
The 10 colleges across the Valley that make up the Maricopa County Community College District are Chandler-Gilbert, Estrella Mountain, GateWay, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Rio Salado, Scottsdale and South Mountain.
Additional colleges outside of the county, including Pima Community College, have taken notice of the potential decision and are preparing to discuss future athletic plans.
“Our leadership team, we are going to meet on Friday, and we’re assuming that we’re going to have discussion on Pima College athletics at that time,” Monaco told AllSportsTuscon.com.
As of now, the future remains uncertain for all Maricopa County community college athletics, but the decision will especially have a large impact on athletes like Enfinger.
“I’ve reached out to other colleges in the area, and I received a phone call already from Park University’s head coach Brandon Gordon,” said Enfinger, who plans to stay in Arizona to play golf. “I’m hoping that will be an opportunity that I can take advantage of in taking the next step as an athlete.”