The State University of New York Athletic Conference is set for a delayed and condensed schedule involving its winter sports teams.
The NCAA Division III conference announced Tuesday part of its conference schedule for men’s hockey will begin near the end of January because of coronavirus-related concerns and challenges. The conference’s men’s and women’s basketball conference schedules are set to start at the beginning of February.
The Morrisville State men’s hockey team is part of the SUNYAC, which usually begins its winter sports schedules in November. The Morrisville State women’s team is part of the Northeast Women’s Hockey League, which has delayed its season until at least Jan. 1.
The SUNYAC said in a release Tuesday schedules for hockey and basketball will have a divisional format. Notably, the SUNYAC said its schedule will reduce travel costs and the need for hotel stays.
SUNYAC commissioner Tom DiCamillo noted the conference will follow direction from local, regional, state and SUNY authorities and the NCAA regarding health and safety for competition.
Men’s hockey will be in a modified East-West division alignment as there are nine members. SUNYAC semifinals are set for Thursday, March 4, and the championship is scheduled for Sunday, March 7.
Morrisville will be in the Eastern Division with Oswego State, Plattsburgh and Potsdam. The division is set to play a triple round-robin schedule minus one contest beginning Friday, Feb. 5. The Western Division, with Brockport, Buffalo State, Cortland, Fredonia and Geneseo, begins its eight-game double round-robin schedule beginning Sunday, Jan. 31.
In the Eastern Division, the format is set to have a nine-game schedule – one more game than the Western Division – and the SUNYAC balanced the schedule by eliminating an Oswego to Plattsburgh trip. The SUNYAC said Potsdam and Morrisville will instead play each other twice.
Men’s and women’s basketball will split into an East-West divisional alignment as well. The SUNYAC includes Cortland, New Paltz, Oneonta, Plattsburgh, Potsdam and Brockport, Buffalo State, Fredonia, Geneseo and Oswego for basketball.
Other conferences that include colleges or universities located in the Utica area have not yet announced full winter sports plans.
The Empire 8 – which includes Utica College as a member for men’s and women’s basketball, indoor track and field and swimming and diving teams – recently delayed a decision regarding winter sports as the Presidents Council evaluates guidelines. There has been no decision on nonconference games for Utica hockey teams, which are part of the United Collegiate Hockey Conference. The UCHC previously delayed conference play until the beginning of 2021.
Contact reporter Ben Birnell at 315-792-5032 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Birnell).