COVID-19 spike prompts Maricopa County JCs to push for cancellation of sports for year

If a recommendation to the Maricopa County Community Colleges District is accepted, junior colleges in the county won’t play sports in the 2020-21 school year because of a spike in COVID-19 cases. The Mesa Community College baseball team was expected to be a top contender in the spring after a strong run in 2019. (Photo courtesy Mesa Community College Facebook)

PHOENIX – The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, as administrators from the district await a decision to be made next week by Chancellor Steven Gonzales.

Despite reports of the cancellation being completed Thursday morning, Matt Hasson, the chief communications officer for the Maricopa County Community Colleges District, said there is “no decision to be made yet” on the matter.

“With COVID going on, our primary focus is our students’ and community’s health, so that’ll be our guiding principle in every decision we make,” he said. “Our 10 college presidents have forwarded a recommendation to our leadership, and we’ll anticipate a decision being made next week.”

More than 200,000 students attend schools in the district. Approximately 1,000 are athletes.

The recommendation comes after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across Arizona, adding 3,056 positive cases on Thursday. The total number of cases in the state is now above 63,000, with 1,490 deaths.

In response to the surge, Gov. Doug Ducey allowed local governments to set their own requirements for facial covering. Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to issue a mandate to all residents requiring masks in public in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus.

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Joel Enfinger, a golfer who committed to Scottsdale Community College, recently moved from Idaho to Arizona for the 2020-21 season.

“It sounds pretty certain that it’s going to be canceled, unfortunately,” he said. “I took a big risk to come out here and be on my own with no family.”

If the recommendation from the schools is approved by leadership, all athletics in the district will be suspended until further notice.

The 10 colleges across the Valley that make up the Maricopa County Community College District are Chandler-Gilbert, Estrella Mountain, GateWay, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Rio Salado, Scottsdale and South Mountain.

Additional colleges outside of the county have taken notice of the potential decision and are preparing to discuss future athletic plans, including Pima Community College, Athletic Director Jim Monaco said.

“Our leadership team, we are going to meet on Friday, and we’re assuming that we’re going to have discussion on Pima College athletics at that time,” Monaco told AllSportsTuscon.com.

As of now, the future remains uncertain for all members of Maricopa County community colleges, but the decision will especially have a large impact on athletes like Enfinger.

He has already enrolled in classes at Gilbert’s Park University, which offered him a scholarship.

Brett Bavcevic

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Brett Bavcevic is a Chicago native who expects to graduate in summer 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in English. Bavcevic is a digital news and sports reporter for Cronkite News and has been a digital intern for the Phoenix Suns.

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