Jen Jones of Husson University pitches during a 2018 softball game at Colby College in Waterville. The New England Small College Athletic Conference, of which Colby is a member, has canceled all spring sports amid concerns about coronavirus. Credit: Courtesy Husson University Athletics

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Fears about the spread of the coronavirus have led to the widespread cancellation of more athletic events, these involving Maine colleges.

Colby College in Waterville is among three Maine colleges impacted by a decision announced Wednesday by the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Presidents at NESCAC schools voted to cancel all spring sports in terms of conference games and the league championships.

Bates College in Lewiston and Bowdoin College in Brunswick also are NESCAC members and won’t be able to conduct league competitions this spring. Baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, crew and outdoor track and field are the primary sports at Maine’s NESCAC schools.

The move to cancel the sports season falls in line with a directive by some NESCAC schools requiring their students to return home and finish their school work from there, rather than on campus.

“In light of the decision of many NESCAC schools to have students return home and complete the semester remotely due to COVID-19, the NESCAC Presidents met and concluded unanimously that conference competition, including conference championships, will be canceled for the 2020 spring season,” a NESCAC statement released Wednesday read.

Jason Fein, the director of athletics at Bates, said the presidents’ decision was in line with other actions being taken at NESCAC schools.

“Like many other colleges and universities across the country, Bates has responded to public health directives and taken steps related to travel, large gatherings and visitors to campus,” Fein said.

“These factors make it impossible, as a practical matter, to move forward with athletic competition,” he added.

Bowdoin on Tuesday had announced that it would not allow spectators to attend its NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament sectional scheduled Friday and Saturday at Morrell Gym in Brunswick. However the school late Wednesday to allow limited family members at the contests.

Fein is aware the news will be taken hard by many Bates College student-athletes.

“I realize this is very difficult and disappointing news, particularly for our seniors, who were looking forward to a final season of hard work and competition,” he said. “I am mindful of just how important the athletic experience is to our students, as teams provide a sense of community, connection, and purpose. However, we find ourselves in a situation where we have an obligation, with respect to all college activities, to mitigate health risks to the Bates community as a whole.”

Other NESCAC institutions include Amherst and Williams colleges and Tufts University in Massachusetts; Connecticut College, Wesleyan University and Trinity College in Connecticut, and Middlebury College in Vermont) and Hamilton College in New York.

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Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...