BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College and the Presidents’ Athletic Conference announced Friday that they will suspend most of the fall athletics season until spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This decision was an extremely difficult one, but it was a necessary one that places the health and safety of our student-athletes and all those involved in delivering excellence in Division III athletics at the forefront,” Bethany President Tamara Nichols Rodenberg said.

The announcement covers “high-contact” and “medium-contact” sports as defined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Those include Bison football, men’s and women’s soccer and cross country, and women’s volleyball.

“Low-contact” sports, including women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s golf, will play a conference-only schedule as announced by the PAC earlier this month.

The PAC is also exploring options for holding fall competition in the “low-contact” sports of men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, and men’s tennis, which are typically played in the spring.

“It breaks my heart that another season will go by in which so many great young men and women will be unable to pull the green and white uniform over their head while competing for each other and for Bethany,” Bethany Athletic Director Steve Thompson said. “We must now unite and support each other and our campus to prevent the spread of this common opponent.”

“The Bethany College staff is working to develop opportunities for student athletes to continue their training throughout the fall while adhering to local, state, and federal health guidelines regarding COVID-19,” Rodenberg said.

In addition to the Bison, the PAC includes Franciscan University of Steubenville, Chatham, Geneva, Grove City, St. Vincent, Thiel, Washington & Jefferson, Waynesburg, and Westminster. PAC associate members Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve announced earlier this month that it would not participate in fall athletics.

The PAC will continue to offer guidance to the colleges regarding its student athletes.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.