Hudson Valley Sports Report


In Exclusive Interview, Pioneer Football League Commissioner Expresses Reservations

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

All eyes are now on the fate of Marist College football this fall, after the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference today canceled all fall sports competition.

Marist is a member of the MAAC in virtually every sport except football. Its participation in the MAAC in fall sports includes women’s and men’s soccer, women’s and men’s cross country, and volleyball.

The Red Foxes’ football program competes in the Pioneer Football League (PFL), which has not made a decision yet on whether it will compete this fall. In a statement, school officials said “A decision regarding Marist’s football season is expected within the next few weeks.”

It likely won’t take that long.

In an exclusive interview last week, PFL Commissioner Patty Viverito told Hudson Valley Sports Report she has reservations about whether Marist will be able to complete its schedule under current circumstances. Specifically, the Red Foxes already have had their three non-conference games on the 2020 schedule canceled – Georgetown, Cornell and Dartmouth, all of which compete in either the Ivy League or Patriot League, two conferences that have canceled all fall sports.

Moreover, she noted that Marist has home PFL football games scheduled against Dayton, Davidson, Valparaiso and San Diego. All four schools are from the 31 states that are on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s list of states considered coronavirus hotspots, and whose residents must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival if they travel to New York – Dayton in Ohio, Davidson in North Carolina, Valparaiso in Indiana and San Diego in California.

This afternoon, Viverito announced that the PFL would only play a conference schedule this fall and it would not begin before September 26. That means schools from states on Cuomo’s mandated quarantine list have two months to get off it.

“If we had to start the season tomorrow, under the current conditions, we couldn’t play. We couldn’t meet the standard of care,” Viverito told HVSR. “But I remain optimistic. There’s no reason to assume the worst. We will play to play until somebody tells us not to.”

Marist Director of Athletics Tim Murray acknowledged the difficulties a football season will entail.

“It seems like things change daily with the coronavirus. We’re facing many challenges, including the travel ban,” Murray told HVSR. “As of right now, on July 27 at 4:58 p.m., the (PFL) announcement gives us two months, so we were able to buy a little time. It allows us time for things to be a little brighter, but we have to be honest that over the last three weeks the sunlight has dimmed.”

As for Marist’s other sport, a decision on whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring will be determined by the presidents at a later date. In a release from the MAAC, Commissioner Rich Ensor stated that the Executive Committee will explore with the Committee on Athletic Administration the goal of providing the student-athletes with a conference schedule in the spring of 2021 in accordance with institutional procedures and state regulations.

“This is extremely disappointing, but it’s the right decision,” Marist president Dr. Dennis J. Murray said in a statement. “We’ll continue to monitor local and state guidelines to ensure that our student-athletes are kept safe and healthy.”

Said Murray said in a statement: “I am deeply disappointed that the decision to cancel fall sports competition had to be made. I understand the substantial impact this will have not only on our student-athletes in fall sports, but the entire student-athlete body here at Marist and across the country. However, our student-athletes’ health and safety was the catalyst in this decision, and will continue to be at the forefront of our operations moving forward. As is always the case, Marist Athletics will support our student-athletes through this challenging time in their athletic and academic pursuits.

When returning to campus, Marist student-athletes will be permitted to train. However, formal team practices will not be allowed. Marist will be responsible for implementing training guidelines in accordance with state and local COVID-19 regulations and guidance provided by the NCAA in its Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition including testing protocols.

Marist vows to honor all athletic and academic scholarships for fall student-athletes. The MAAC Council of Presidents has pledged full advocacy on behalf of our student-athletes to work with the NCAA in the pursuit of any waivers that preserve lost opportunities because of these COVID-19 disruptions.

Decisions regarding winter and spring sports will be determined in the upcoming months by health professionals and state officials.


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