KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – USA South Conference officials announced all fall sports will be postponed to the spring 2021 semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s cross country, and women’s cross country at Maryville College and 17 other USA South schools will be postponed until the spring 2021 semester, conference officials confirmed Tuesday.

Decisions about conference play for men’s and women’s basketball, which typically begins in December, will be made in the coming weeks.

A statement from USA South attributed the postponement to the recent rise in positive cases throughout the conference’s geographical footprint as well as logistical issues involved with proper testing for student athletes.

“The continually evolving nature of COVID-19, our conference’s widespread geography, and challenges around COVID-19 testing for student-athletes were all factors in this difficult decision,” Maryville College President Dr. Bryan F. Coker wrote in the memo, later describing it as “the right decision for MC and for our entire conference.”

In a news release issued by the USA South, Commissioner Dr. Tom Hart said the conference would “begin work immediately to develop a strategic plan that allows for fall conference sports competition to return in some capacity in the spring provided public health conditions improve in the coming months.”

“Providing safe opportunities for our student athletes to pursue their passions has always been a hallmark of this conference,” shared Dr. James Mellichamp, Piedmont College President and chair of the USA South Presidents Council. “The global pandemic has currently hindered our conference, along with a vast majority of Division III conferences, to carry out that intention this fall. Until we can ensure safe conditions for student-athletes, coaches, and staff to travel and compete on a variety of campuses, each institution will need to focus its efforts on maximizing the opportunity to develop best-practices – related not only to collegiate athletics but also academics – within the constraints of local and state guidelines.”

“Obviously, while I am dismayed that we will not have football, soccer, cross country and volleyball this semester, I am more disappointed for those student-athletes and their families who will not get to have the seasons they had expected this fall,” Maryville College athletics director Kandis Schram said. “Every effort will be made to recover some of these special moments in the spring semester.”