While all sports start their seasons in the spring, both football and basketball are enduring unique situations. The Northwest Conference announced “for fall and winter sports, the NWC will have the institutions only play fellow NWC institutions in their respective states.” On top of this, both Lewis & Clark and Willamette have opted out of the season for these sports, leaving Pacific only eligible to play George Fox and Linfield.
Lewis & Clark and Willamette released a joint statement in December stating, “State restrictions on competition are unlikely to change, as football and basketball are considered high-risk sports by the NCAA, and the experiences of some colleges and universities have shown this to be true, even with strong safety protocols in place.”
The schools said, “We will continue to work with the Oregon Health Authority and the NWC to develop plans to return, if possible, to safe competition in lesser-risk sports.”
For basketball, both the men’s and women’s team will play in home-and-home double headers versus Linfield and George. They will play each team four times, all in February. The Northwest Conference hopes to play a conference tournament which will include all schools from both Oregon and Washington. The winner will move on to the Division III NCAA tournament, if the event is held.
As for football, so far the team is only scheduled to play George Fox in a home-and-home series in mid March. The two schools released a joint statement saying, “Pacific and George Fox University are committed to providing an opportunity for their student-athletes to compete on the gridiron in 2021.” The schools added, “Pacific and George Fox University share a strong desire to serve their student-athletes and give them an opportunity to develop in a live game environment this spring.”
The first game, scheduled for March 13, will be Ian Falconer’s first game as Head Coach of the Boxers after 10 seasons as an assistant coach for Pacific’s football program.
The NWC has decided to not allow fans in attendance for the spring season in 2021 to help combat the spread of COVID-19. While sports begin and Pacific is ramped for a packed spring semester in athletics, as of now the football and basketball teams will have limited games due to the regulations of the NWC and the opting out of both Lewis & Clark and Willamette. — Joey Balleweg
Photo: Unlike any other year in Pacific sports, there will be no fans admitted into the stadium due to COVID-19 (Julien Dagan)