Life seemed to pause and change drastically when COVID-19 began transmitting in communities across the United States. At SIUE, students are unsure of their future academic plans, particularly senior athletes.
On March 12, the Ohio Valley Conference suspended all athletic activities, including competitions and formal practices, putting senior athletes’ careers on hold across the United States, including SIUE.
By the time the OVC announced this suspension, SIUE track, wrestling, and baseball were deep into their respective seasons, and coaches and faculty became swamped with meetings about the ongoing pandemic. Now senior athletes and coaches are uncertain if seniors will get another chance to play as Cougars.
SIUE senior track athlete thrower Catherine Jakich said there was no warning given before the OVC officially announced the suspension.
“They just kept releasing statements [athletic activities] would be suspended until further notice,” Jakich said.
Like many SIUE senior athletes, Jakich doesn’t know how she is going to finish her academic career, in addition to her career as an athlete.
“We’re just kind of in limbo,” Jakich said. “We’re hoping for the opportunity to compete again. This is not the way you want to end your collegiate career.”
SIUE baseball was also hit extremely hard by the news of the OVC’s sudden suspension. Baseball seniors infielder Aaron Goecks and utility player Justin Perkins thought their college careers were over, along with their fellow senior teammates.
“For the baseball players, it sucks because it’s pretty much the end of their career,” Perkins said. “It’s a hard time because we missed out on three-fourths of our season. We’re having a hard time processing it.”
However, hopeful news has emerged since the OVC’s initial announcement. According to a report from NPR on March 20, the NCAA is discussing giving senior Division I athletes another year of eligibility.
“I’m excited and looking forward to being able to play more,” Goecks said.
According to Perkins, the eligibility process is more complex.
“There’s a lot more that goes into it, such as scholarship money and roster spots; there’s a lot of details in the making yet.”
In the OVC’s suspension announcement, the conference called for the cancellation of all “formal” practices, leaving ambiguity between formal and informal sports practice. However, according to Goecks and Perkins, there are no practices happening in general.
“There is nothing going on right now,” Goecks said. “With the quarantine and social distancing, we are not practicing at all. But, I know probably all of us are going to be given work whenever we can. Or, we’ll be hitting on our own at some point.”
The Alestle will continue to provide updates as more OVC and NCAA news arises.