Fall semester was a wild ride for Oakland University Athletics — the Horizon League pushed back fall sports to a spring season, COVID-19 protocols ramped up testing and safety requirements and practices ceased for track and field and swimming and diving back in November.
Now, it’s likely every sport at OU will compete at the same time in an effort to fit in and finish up seasons.
“At some point this month and into February, we’ll have every sport that we offer competing,” Athletic Director Steve Waterfield said. “[This] has never happened before, and my hope is it will never happen again — the reasoning being the pandemic.”
Both men’s and women’s basketball teams are currently playing — men’s basketball having most recently dropped both contests against Green Bay, 84-81 in overtime on Friday, Jan. 8 and 87-78 on Saturday, Jan. 9. Women’s basketball defeated Youngstown State University 71-61 on Friday and fell 72-57 on Saturday. These players are currently being tested for COVID-19 six times per week to comply with the current Michigan guidelines.
Swimming and diving is looking at having some home competitions within the next couple months, with dates still uncertain, and their championship has been pushed back to April for the Horizon League. Competitions for track and field are projected to start mid to late January, depending on state regulations.
“We still have the current state order that (as of Jan. 8) goes through Jan. 15,” Waterfield said. “Other sports will get [COVID-19 tested] three times a week through the duration of the state order. If there’s no order that mandates the three tests a week, the NCAA mandates certain thresholds of testing depending on the category of sport risk.”
For fall sports that were pushed to winter, volleyball is planning to start Monday, Jan. 25 and men’s/women’s soccer is aiming to begin Feb. 2-3.
Baseball and softball typically start at the end of February and middle of February respectively, with Horizon League play beginning early March for both. Indoor tennis should begin in January, golf and outdoor track & field are to start up soon as well — details and updates are forthcoming.
From a facilities standpoint, Waterfield mentioned there’s been some shifting, but providing certainty is a priority.
“[We’re] looking at probably, on average, 4-5 home competitions depending upon the sport per week,” Waterfield said. “[The Horizon League] tried to keep the days [any particular team] competes consistent, so our volleyball teams will always compete on Mondays and Tuesdays during the week, basketball games on Fridays and Saturdays, etc. — but there’s going to be a lot of events, there’s no way around that.”
Waterfield mentioned he’s excited to see student athletes compete as seasons start up as he “knows it means a lot to them.”
“[The student athletes] love their sports and love to practice and compete,” Waterfield said. “Not having any of them fall semester was challenging and disappointing, but now we’ve positioned ourselves to give [student athletes] the opportunity to practice, compete and represent Oakland University.”
For those interested in keeping up with OU Athletics, visit their website, follow their socials and/or check out ESPN+ to watch various games.