Ted Harshbarger, Associate Athletic Director
PERU – After postponing six football games this season, officials at Peru State have notified the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) the College will suspend the remainder of the fall 2020 football season. Under pressure from a combination of factors including necessary quarantines related to COVID-19, the Bobcats have played three games this season and do not foresee a path back to the field this fall.
“This action will remove the week-to-week uncertainty for our student athletes,” Peru State President Dr. Dan Hanson said.
In addition to several conference games postponed this week, Heart sister school Clarke University has also made the decision to suspend the season. Peru State has committed to possible additional conference games in the spring.
“We believe this is the right decision for the health and safety of our student-athletes, and our football program,” said Wayne Albury, Peru State athletic director. “I would like to commend the players, coaching staff and training staff for their tremendous effort adapting to this difficult season.”
“While it is disappointing to suspend the remainder of the fall season, I believe our football players understand the situation,” head football coach Casey Creehan said. “They have handled the adversity well and have continued to work hard throughout the season.”
Peru State is one of a few colleges in the NAIA testing weekly. The College has followed guidance for disease-prevention by conducting surveillance testing for pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.
“Regular testing continues to be an important strategy as high testing numbers continue to catch both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases,” Hanson said. “By responding quickly and placing affected individuals in isolation or quarantine, the spread of COVID-19 has been reduced on our campus.”
Since August 24 and through October 26, Peru State has been testing students and staff members weekly through Test Nebraska. Most recently, the College has switched to saliva tests through Corteva Agriculture in Des Moines. The College plans to continue testing campus members throughout the rest of the academic year.
The impact of COVID-19 has not only impacted the Bobcat football team. All of the College’s 13 varsity and five junior varsity programs have had positive cases and health-department recommended isolation and quarantining.
The Bobcats are a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) – one of five NAIA conferences playing football this fall. Other NAIA conferences have moved their schedules to the spring or are not playing football this year due to the COVID-19 virus and its effects on athletics.
The NAIA previously reduced the season and removed the first two games of the original 11-game schedule. As the coronavirus was detected on conference campuses and multiple games were postponed among the 12 schools playing football, the Heart Council of Presidents affirmed that divisional play was a priority. If there were dates available, cross-divisional games could still be played.
The NAIA made the decision this week that participation by athletes in the 2020 fall or winter sports will not count toward their eligible seasons. This allows student athletes to use their eligibility to participate in full uninterrupted seasons in the future.
Peru State is in the Heart North with their opponents being Grand View (Iowa), Clarke (Iowa), William Penn (Iowa), Culver-Stockton (Mo.), and Graceland (Iowa). At this point, the Bobcats have yet to play a North Division game.
Peru State will finish the 2020 shortened season with a 1-2 record having claimed a win over Heart South Division foe Central Methodist (Mo.) for homecoming and falling to Baker (Kan.) and Benedictine (Kan.).