The Journal Gazette
Saturday, March 14, 2020 1:00 am

Big Ten puts team activities on hold

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

There will be no organized team activities for any team in the Big Ten until at least April 6, the conference announced Friday. The move comes in response to the spread of COVID-19 and is on the heels of Thursday's cancellation of all remaining Big Ten conference and nonconference competitions, including the men's basketball tournament, for the remainder of the academic year.

In essence, the conference had already canceled games and now practices and other team workouts are out, as well, for the next several weeks. There has also been a moratorium placed on all recruiting activities “for the foreseeable future.”

The Big Ten's decision especially affects spring-sport athletes such as Indiana baseball player Grant Richardson, a former Bishop Dwenger star, and Penn State baseball player Mac Hippenhammer, a Snider graduate.

TinCaps president urges patience

TinCaps President Mike Nutter, who learned Thursday that the start of his team's season will be pushed back from its original April 9 opening day, said at a news conference at Parkview Field on Friday that there is still not much information to be had about how COVID-19 will affect the minor league baseball season.

“It is way too early to know when (the start of the season) will be, how many home games we'll end up getting to play, what it looks like,” Nutter said. “We're just not sure at this point.

“It is our sincere hope, it's our plan, it's our thought that there's gonna be baseball this summer at Parkview Field,” Nutter added.

As Nutter spoke, maintenance workers were installing Parkview Field's new video board and growth mats were on the outfield grass in an effort to get the field ready for when the team does play.

Nutter said that, to his knowledge, no players at Padres spring training have tested positive for the virus.

He also added that the team is drafting a message to its ticket-holders to reassure them that refunds or rain checks for potentially canceled games will be forthcoming as soon as more information is available about changes to the team's schedule.

Eligibility relief

Spring-sport athletes affected by the NCAA's Thursday cancellation of its spring championships will get eligibility relief, likely in the form of an extra year of eligibility for their sports, the NCAA's Division I Council Coordination Committee announced.

The details will be ironed out later, and there are still questions about how an extra year would affect scholarship limits, but the committee agreed that relief was needed for athletes whose seasons were affected by events beyond their control. 

The NCAA also banned in-person recruiting for its member coaches and all recruit visits to campus are barred until April 15. Phone calls and written messages are still permitted during that dead period.

Soccer still on

Fort Wayne FC, the semipro soccer team that was announced in September and is scheduled to open its inaugural season in late May, has not yet seen its start date affected, according to general manager Greg Mauch.

“Nothing major at this point,” Mauch said. “Obviously every time there's a delay it gets closer to (our start date), so it gets a little more concerning, but at this point, we've already selected our roster. Training wasn't supposed to begin until May 1, so we were in a bit of a holding pattern and that gives us a little room to spare.”

Fort Wayne FC is part of the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League. Other regions in the league have already started play and those games have been suspended until April 4.

League changes

The Summit League, Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and Crossroads League all announced modifications to their upcoming schedules Friday.

The Summit League, home to Purdue Fort Wayne until July 1 when the Mastodons move to the Horizon League, canceled all of its spring sports competitions, including nonconference competitions, through the end of the academic year. In practice that likely means PFW is done competing in the conference.

The HCAC, of which Manchester is a member, suspended all athletic competition indefinitely, with the exception of teams that are currently competing during their spring breaks. Practices will be permitted, with each school allowed to make its own decision on that front.

The Crossroads League made a less far-reaching move, canceling only competitions through March 31. The league will re-evaluate the suspension of play on April 1.

AAU shuts down

The Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, which includes the Indy Heat, home of top Fort Wayne talents Caleb Furst of Blackhawk Christian and Luke Goode of Homestead, announced that it had canceled several upcoming events, including a tournament in Indianapolis that was to begin April 17.

The Bill Hensley Memorial Run N Slam, a large tournament that attracts some of the nation's top AAU teams to Spiece Fieldhouse, is still on as scheduled for May 1-3, but another tournament at Spiece, the March Classic, set to be played next week, has been canceled.

Warriors cancel

Indiana Tech announced that all athletic contests and practices and have been canceled for the remainder of the spring semester. The decision came after the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference announced that all spring sport competition would be canceled starting today. 

The Warriors also got a bit of good news as women's basketball player DeAnn Kauffman was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team. Angola graduates Abby and Becca Buchs, who play for Taylor, were also selected for the honor.

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