Regardless of what happens this winter and spring, Bakersfield College student athletes have been assured they will have futures within their respective programs beyond 2020-21.
In a Board of Directors meeting Friday, the California Community College Athletic Association approved a motion that will allow all athletes to retain the eligibility they would have used during this school year, even if they are able return to competition this spring.
After being forced to postpone their seasons due to COVID-19, the CCCAA initially voted in July that fall sports could return to practice on Jan 18. Football would be able to begin game action on Feb. 13, with all other sports set to start on Feb. 5.
However, after being forced to condense all seasons, the CCCAA also stated they wouldn't be hosting state tournaments during the 2020-21 school year.
Without the possibility of winning a state title, BC Interim Athletic Director Reggie Bolton says many athletes didn't want to use up eligibility. With that problem out of the way, he expects full participation when play resumes.
"That was a big decision," Bolton said. "Some kids were like 'If I'm not going to get my year back ... why play?' Now that they're going to give the their year back ... why not play?"
When, or if they'll be allowed to play this spring remains to be seen.
On Friday, the board announced it was moving forward with the previous plan that would allow fall sports to begin Jan. 18. And while the motion was unanimously passed, it came with multiple caveats.
Currently, the board is looking to establish a date in which schools could choose to opt out of the season. Board Interim Executive Director Jennifer Cardone expected that date would be established "within the next week or two."
Cardone also stressed that any decision to move forward or to cancel a season is "a local decision based on your institution and your county."
Bakersfield College has put its own protocols in place for athletes who've returned to campus to workout. Bolton and BC President Sonya Christian are said to be working on a plan to determine the feasibility of spring sports.
With a short window to figure everything out, Bolton admits getting everything in place by January could be a tall order.
“I’m more confident that the spring’s going to go right now than I am the fall," he said. "I think the spring has a better possibility of going because we have more non-contact sports in spring than we do in the fall. Fall has higher risk and they get tested more because they have more contact.”
Bolton expects decisions will be easier when students are allowed to return to campus for classes, which they are not yet allowed to do.
Even if it didn't offer 100 percent clarity, Bolton did say he was mostly encouraged by Friday's ruling.
"I’m just as encouraged as I was when we heard back in July that we were going to have a season," he said. "And I'm still encouraged we’re going to have a season. I think everybody's excited because they didn't say no."