Player opt-outs over COVID-19 force CSUN women’s basketball to cancel season
The Cal State Northridge women’s basketball team announced it will not compete this 2020-21 season due to student-athlete COVID-19 opt-outs, according to a press release from the school’s athletic department Thursday.
The NCAA directed all member schools to provide student-athletes with an option to “opt-out” of competition this year due to concerns of the virus. In doing so, the NCAA would allow the athlete to keep that year of eligibility.
The Matadors began preseason camp with 12 players on the roster, but as workouts continued six CSUN players elected to opt-out which left the program with just half a dozen players available to compete.
“Student-athlete safety will always be our priority,” CSUN Athletic Director Mike Izzi said. “Given the number of students that have voluntarily elected to opt-out of competition this year, our women’s basketball team will not be able to have a healthy and safe opportunity to compete this season. There is no question that supporting the welfare of student-athletes is what drives us, making our direction clear.”
Freshman center Rochelle Fourie lives in New Zealand, but can’t enter the country due to travel constraints. Even so, seven still isn’t enough to participate in a full collegiate season.
This decision was made in conjunction with the women’s basketball student-athletes, who offered their thoughts in a statement.
“As a team, we came to the difficult decision that we will not compete this year. Since there are only six of us and the physical health concerns from the wear and tear of a full season with back-to-back competition, we are prioritizing our health and safety during this global pandemic. We love the game and we are competitors. We will use this time to focus and prepare mentally and physically to compete at a high level and full capacity for the 2021-22 season.”
The press release states that members of the team will remain enrolled in classes, either virtually or in-person as full-time students. It goes on to say that CSUN will honor all existing athletic scholarships through the 2020-21 school year and also ensures that women’s basketball players receive all the student support services necessary to cope with the situation.
“We engaged and listened to the concerns of our team and feel this is the best decision for their health, safety, and well-being,” said interim head coach Lindsey Foster. “As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, our staff will continue to find creative and safe ways to develop our players. We are united in this approach and we will use this time to get ready for the 2021-22 season.”