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MIAA postpones fall sports, but some schools seek independent competition

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Football and all fall sports have been postponed by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, though some member schools hope to compete in the fall as independents.

Adrian College, Calvin College and Trine University are exploring options to compete in all fall sports that they normally sponsor while Olivet College will explore options for competing in cross country, golf and tennis this fall.

Hope is the defending MIAA champion in football.

The MIAA will develop schedules for football, cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball to take place later in the academic year.

“We recognize the deep disappointment this decision is for our student-athletes, coaches, and parents at schools that will not be competing,” said MIAA commissioner Penny Allen-Cook in a statement. “While this decision is very disappointing, our first priority is fostering safe and productive learning environments on our campuses.”

Adrian College athletic director Michael Duffy is busy at work identifying possible competition as an independent.

“We’ve reached out to other institutions who are also looking to engage in competition this fall,” said Duffy.

Hope College’s football team went unbeaten in MIAA play last season (9-2, 7-0) before a loss to Wartburg in the first round of the Division III playoffs.

When contacted by The Detroit News about the MIAA’s decision, Hope head coach Peter Stuursma said: “We’re going to follow what our league decided on. I can’t speak to what other teams are doing, but we’re going to be in conjunction with the MIAA and stand by that.

“I feel awful for our players. Our guys had a lot of things thrown their way, as everybody has, we felt bad when the spring sports had been cancelled, and then who would have thought it would have gone on to fall football, so we feel bad for all of them.

“We’re also looking at the positive and potentials that could come out of it, spreading out their credits for an additional year of eligibility for that fall of their senior year, or just the opportunity to get stronger and faster and acclimate to college if you’re a freshman, and that’s what we’re going to look at it as. I just feel like we’re going to use this as an opportunity to get better.”

Stuursma, who has a 32-9 record (23-3 MIAA) in four years at Hope, guided East Grand Rapids to five straight Division 3 state championships (2006-10) and seven state titles in a nine-year span. He told his players of the news through a Zoom meeting. He was supposed to start practice Aug. 10.

MIAA teams that compete in football are Hope, Adrian, Albion, Olivet, Alma, Kalamazoo, Trine and Finlandia.