Furman Athletics Remains Eager and Ready to Compete
Prior to the Southern Conference’s Aug. 13 decision to postpone fall athletics, Furman was fully prepared to compete. However, on Aug. 17, Furman Athletics cancelled all fall athletic competition. Athletics Director Jason Donnelly explained that teams would be able to play if they “were bubbled and followed NCAA protocols.” As a result of national pressure and the urging of the Southern Conference, Furman decided to not hold fall athletics. Interestingly enough, when asked about the decision-making process for the Conference and what it was like to be in the room, Jason Donnelly said that Furman was among the schools that advocated for sports to take place.
Furman’s decision to advocate for play is driven by the University and Athletic Department’s goals. Donnelly shared the department’s three main goals: “Get healthy, get back to class and get back to competition.” Administrators initially believed that they could effectively accomplish all three of these goals. However, looming pressure and a changing national narrative ultimately deterred the Athletic Department from accomplishing its objectives. Jason Donnelly explained that “the goal is to win championships at the conference and national level. Once we realized this was not possible, we decided holding competition that would not accomplish these goals was putting our athletes at too great of a risk.”
Donnelly underscored that “Furman teams are healthy and following the guidelines we have put into place. We are now in pre-season mode and allowing teams to still practice.” Furman Athletics conducted 452 COVID-19 tests and only nine came back positive. Donnelly added, “We are still doing testing but ultimately it is the healthy behaviors and actions that truly matter.”
When asked about the fate of winter sports, Donnelly said, “We do not have too much knowledge regarding winter sports, but we are making plans for competition. While things are mostly unscheduled, Furman is looking to move competitions to after Thanksgiving if no decisions are made soon.”
The department is likely to make a decision in the coming months on the fate of winter sports. However, similar to the fall, Donnelly maintained a hopeful and positive tone for the future: “We do not want to lose the ability to stay on campus...COVID-19 is just something we have to deal with. We will mitigate any sort of outbreak and continue to work on being healthy while also competing. We want to unite the enthusiasm of the community and rally around our athletics. We believe in their power to be a uniting force.”