FERRUM — Now that Ferrum College’s spring sports campaign has been brought to an unexpected and early end, the focus shifts to the Panthers return to the fields and courts of play this fall.

Because there are only predictions as to how long the coronavirus pandemic will last, is Ferrum’s return in September in jeopardy too?

“We have not, as a college or in the ODAC (Old Dominion Athletic Conference) talked about the impact COVID-19 could have on the fall semester or fall athletic seasons, Ferrum Director of Athletics John Sutyak when that question was posed to him Monday.

“It is tough to say when those discussions would start to happen. Certainly, we will continue to monitor the national and regional trends of this virus and how it progresses throughout the spring and summer months and learn what the recommendations from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) will be,’’ Sutyak said.

The NCAA is giving student-athletes in Divisions I, II and III who were seniors this spring an additional year of eligibility because of the interruptions to their careers caused by the pandemic.

Sutyak said the college “does not have a number yet on how many seniors will try to continue their careers, either here at Ferrum or elsewhere.’’

Some of those seniors will have graduated and could pursue the extra year as maters program candidates. Ferrum has added a master’s program in psychology, Sutyak said, adding “that could be attractive, depending on the student’s interest.’’

Others may need the extra year to complete degree requirements.

Whichever the case, these student-athletes must pay tuition to return because the NCAA does not permit Division III institutions to give athletic scholarships.

Besides football, Ferrum competes in field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and equestrian in the fall.

Golf is a dual (fall and spring) seasonal sport. The majority of play in men’s and women’s tennis is scheduled for the spring, but matches can be slated and staged in the fall too.

The Panthers field hockey team, led by head coach Carrie Hanshue Austin, and Ferrum’s women’s soccer team, guided by second-year head coach Erin Saleeby, both open at home on Tuesday, Sept. 1

Ferrum entertains Southern Virginia in field hockey and Averett University in women’s soccer.

will likely be the first Ferrum squad to return to regular-season action at home. The Panthers’ 2020 season opener is set for Tuesday, Sept. 1 against Southern Virginia University.

Ferrum’s volleyball team, steered by head coach Ruthanne Duffy, also opens regular-season play Sept. 1, but its first match is on the road at Averett University.

Ferrum’s football team, which will be guided by a new head coach this fall, opens on the road Saturday, Sept. 5 at Averett. The Panthers’ first home game is Saturday, Sept. 12 against Greensboro (North Carolina) College.

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