SVC Women's basketball practice 04

Skagit Valley College women’s basketball coach Deb Castle (left) talks to members of the team during a dribbling drill Oct. 7 in Mount Vernon. Players wore masks during the practice and kept at least 6 feet apart.

Skagit Valley College's fall and winter sports seasons will start later than expected — and the seasons for every sport will look very different when they do get underway.

The Northwest Athletic Conference, the governing body for Pacific Northwest community college athletics, announced this week a slate of changes including a later start for fall and winter sports, and the cancellation of championship events in all sports.

The changes were decided by the conference's executive board.

Skagit Valley College's fall and winter sports — volleyball, men's soccer, women's soccer, men's basketball and  women's basketball — are now permitted to resume competition March 1 instead of in mid-February.

This change will put those sports on the same schedule as the college's spring sports — baseball, softball, men's golf and women's golf.

"There is no perfect answer to this difficult and challenging situation we face. But as a conference we wish to support the total development of our student-athletes," NWAC Executive Director Marco Azurdia said in a statement.

It is still up to the individual schools whether they will field teams in 2021. All teams will need to abide by local and state COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Skagit Valley College men's basketball coach Carl Howell said it's disappointing there won't be an NWAC Tournament in 2021, but said he and his players are excited for a 24-game season and to compete for the top spot in the North Region. He expects practices to begin in January after winter break and a quarantine period. 

"A 24-game schedule is pretty close to a normal schedule. We'll still have a championship to play for in the North Region," he said. "Our guys have been good about it. They're excited. You play the games in front of you, and there will still be a (regional) championship."

The NWAC set June 15 as an end date for competition in all sports. 

Last month, the NWAC announced student-athletes will not be charged a year of eligibility for the 2020-2021 school year. 

— Reporter Trevor Pyle: 360-416-2156, tpyle@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @goskagit, Facebook.com/bytrevorpyle

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