The National Junior College Athletics Association announced Monday that the remainder of the spring sports season and the college basketball championships would be canceled.
“In light of the progressive evolvement of the COVID-19 situation, the NJCAA has decided to end all competition for the remainder of the academic year,” said Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO. “As an association, the NJCAA exhausted all possible avenues to potentially postpone competition for both upcoming basketball championships and spring sport competition. We believe following the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control is in the best interest of our member colleges and our student-athletes.”
Jefferson College was in the middle of its baseball and softball seasons. The Vikings’ baseball team finished 16-9 after it played its final games of the season against Crowder Community College in Neosho on March 13. The softball team ends 2020 riding an 11-game winning streak and a record of 13-3.
Tony Cook, Jefferson’s softball coach the past 14 seasons, said he found out his season was over on Twitter. His players saw it too and immediately started to call him.
“Who’s to say two weeks from now things will be better and we can start it back up?” said Cook, who was at the campus in Hillsboro on Tuesday picking up supplies to teach maintenance and repair online. “What’s the hurt of that? (The junior college) World Series doesn’t start until the end of May. I thought we had time.”
As far as finding out his team’s fate on social media?
“It’s unfortunate. I wish they would have sent something to all (activities directors) first to let us know,” Cook said.
Like the four-year athletes in the NCAA, all participating athletes in the NJCAA will retain their year of eligibility, but that could create a logjam since all of Cook’s sophomores have already signed with four-year colleges. Coaches in the NJCAA are restricted from recruiting until April 15.
“We can call, email and text athletes,” Cook said. “We can continue with signing processes. Once you delay things, that recruit might change their mind and go somewhere else. Eligibility starts at NCAA Division I and trickles down to us. You’ve got this big pool of players with an extra year of eligibility.”
Four Viking freshmen from the county – Erica Fletcher, Kelsey Boyd, Lauren Duff and Jessica Veselske – were starting to emerge as impact players.
on the Vikings. After their tournament in Arkansas was canceled last week, Cook met with his players and talked about a grim future.
How many players does Cook expect back in 2021?
“Right now, I don’t know,” he said. “We haven’t had that discussion. Every one of our sophomores have signed with a four-year institution. If those aren’t honored, we’ll welcome them back for another year here. We don’t want an athlete here just to play ball because they’ve completed their academics.”