Rowan baseball team helmets and gloves sit on a bench. - File Photo / Miguel Martinez.

It is official. After almost a year of no sporting competitions, Rowan University will finally have their athletes back in action for the spring sports season.

The announcement was made this Tuesday by Athletic Director Dr. John Giannini, and it comes just under a year to the day when Rowan had to stop all sporting activities due the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rowan athletic teams have since been able to return to practice, but before this announcement, there was no official word on when or if Rowan would return to sporting competitions this school year. 

In fact, the only announcements had been the cancelation of fall and winter sports. Thankfully, spring sports did not hold the same fate this year. 

Giannini described it as a “perfect storm” of all the factors working in the university’s favor that allowed him to feel confident in making this decision. 

“It is a perfect combination of good factors in that the spring sports are outdoors and present lower risk, we have more people getting vaccinated now and we have a greater capacity for testing,” Giannini said. “So all those things weigh in favor of conducting spring sports.”

The rise in more testing played a huge role in making this decision possible, which is why he gives a lot of credit to Student Health Services and the Wellness Center.

“One of the things that has gone in our favor right now is that we have a very efficient testing system that the Wellness Center and Scott Woodside are conducting,” Giannini said. “That allows us to be in compliance with the strictest NCAA recommendations.”

While Giannini didn’t want to see spring sports athletes lose another season, it was clear his number one priority is safety. 

“On a sentimental level, and sentiment could not make this decision, but certainly no one wanted to see the spring sports canceled two years in a row. It would have literally wiped out half of some students’ college athletic careers,” Giannini said. “But at the end of the day though, safety and the circumstances around safety had to make this a realistic decision.” 

While a lot of discussion and time went into making this decision, Giannini has also kept the mindset that everything might not go perfectly.

“We also have to realize, though, there will be games canceled. Whether it is at Rowan or with opposing teams, there are going to be positive tests and there is going to be groups who have to go through quarantine,” he said. “We continue to see this in Division 1 where games are regularly. So we are not out of the woods completely, it is a strange year and really the virus is in control, if someone gets it there are repercussions, we have to take precautions.”

As for taking precautions, one of them will be the fans allowed at the games, which for now will only consist of families of the athletes. 

“We are following the executive order from the governor’s office,” Giannini said. “That allows two parents or guardians at an event per student athlete.” 

As for students, while they won’t be allowed to go watch the game for leisure, he did say that Rowan students who are working within sports media would be allowed to cover the games, with restrictions. 

“We are going to allow students as a part of the Rowan community to broadcast and cover games. They will be tier two personnel by NCAA standards which means they won’t [be] allowed to go down and interview coaches and athletes the way they normally would,” Giannini said. “They will have to be distanced and will do so at a level far greater than six feet, they’ll be up in stands far removed from the tier one personnel, but we want to keep things in the Rowan circle and as always give our students who are interested in sports communications their own opportunities.”

Despite the fact there will be a lot of differences compared to any other season, it seems like Giannini and the rest of Rowan Athletics are just happy to get sports back on. 

Rowan Athletics has already released the schedule for all five spring sports teams with the first event of this athletic year being played by the lacrosse team at home on Wednesday, March 3, against Salisbury University. 

For comments/questions about this story, tweet @TheWhitOnline.