GLASSBORO — Rowan University has canceled its winter sports season but has hopes of having a spring season.

The New Jersey Athletic Conference, which includes Rowan along with Kean, Montclair, New Jersey City University, Ramapo College, Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, Stockton, TCNJ and William Patterson, delayed the start of the winter season. It's athletic directors will meet on Friday on a Zoom call. The last day for any NJAC school to cancel its winter season is Monday, according to a Press of Atlantic City report.

NJAC cancelled its fall sports and Rowan pulled the plug on the Owls playing that season in the early spring.

Rowan Interim Athletic Director John Giannini told New Jersey 101.5 he has watched Division 1 programs struggle in the fall with football and again with winter sports and didn't want to put his athletes through that stress.

"Most programs have had massive cancellations and one of the factors in this decision was that I do not see the Division 1 athletes having a positive experience. Division 1 football teams, a lot of them declined bowl invitations because they were tired of being tested, they were tired of having games being canceled, they were tired of being told they're not having practice today," Giannini said.

Gianni said many programs passed on playing in a bowl game, which should be the highlight of a college athlete's career.

"Many teams outside of the college football teams competing for a national championship many others said 'we've had enough. We're not enjoying playing in front of no fans and being tested and having a large percentage of our games canceled every week,'" Gianni said.

The sports teams impacted by the school's decision are men's and women's cross country, field hockey, football, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's indoor track & field and volleyball.

Gianni said that had Rowan's basketball teams played it would have been a shortened eight game season over four weeks. Per NCAA protocols for Division 3 if a member of the team tests positive the program is shutdown for two weeks meaning that potentially only four games would be played.

"We're concerned about the use and cost of community resources for testing going to athletes that could go to other people in the community," Gianni said. "And at the end of the day we really are not optimistic that the short season won't have the same kind of cancellations we see in Division 1 and end up with a very small number of games when all this effort is put forth. I just don't see a good outcome."

As more people are vaccinated Gianni is optimistic about a complete spring season because many of the sports are socially distanced.

"Baseball and softball are outdoor sports which dramatically reduces the risks. We hope more people are vaccinated and they'll be safer given that they're all so lower risk to begin with," Gianni said.

Other spring sports are women's lacrosse and men's and women's outdoor track and field.

The cancellation of the season is upsetting to student athletes as they are unable to compete in a sport they've played since childhood.

"It's part of their identity it's what they love to do and it's very painful not to be able to do what you love," Gianni said.  But it's better than the alternative of last minute game and practice cancellations happening to their Division One counterparts.

"They're being canceled and shutdown on a routine basis. They wake up in the morning ready for practice and they're told 'no you can't practice," Gianni said. People get on the bus or plane and go to the game and they're told to turn around. We can't play."

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which includes Rider and Monmouth universities, made adjustments to how it schedules games in order to cut down on travel this season but proceeded with play.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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