Cal State Northridge Thursday canceled its women’s basketball season because coronavirus-related opt-outs left it with six players.
The Matadors began preseason camp with 12 players on the roster. Freshman center Rochelle Fourie, who is from New Zealand, could not enter the U.S. due to travel constraints. A half-dozen players elected to opt out during preseason workouts, citing COVID-19 concerns.
The cancellation was made in conjunction with the players.
“As a team, we came to the difficult decision that we will not compete this year,” the team said in a statement released by the university. “Since there are only six of us and the physical health concerns from the wear and tear of a full season with back-to-back competition, we are prioritizing our health and safety during this global pandemic.
“We love the game and we are competitors. We will use this time to focus and prepare mentally and physically to compete at a high level and full capacity for the 2021-22 season.”
Head team physician Dr. Eric Sletten said he concurred “wholeheartedly with this decision.”
“It would not be a safe endeavor to compete at the NCAA Division I level with such reduced person power,” Sletten said. “Foregoing the 2020-21 season is best for the health and safety of these student-athletes.”
The NCAA earlier this year directed all member institutions to provide athletes with an option to opt out of athletics participation due to concerns about contracting COVID-19. The NCAA allowed athletes opting out to keep that year of eligibility.
CSUN will honor all existing athletic scholarships through the 2020-21 school year. The NCAA Division I Council adopted legislation Oct. 14 to extend the eligibility of winter sport athletes.
The players will remain enrolled in classes, either virtually or in-person, as full-time students. They will also retain access to support services per NCAA rules, ensuring they remain on track academically.
Interim coach Lindsey Foster said “we engaged and listened to the concerns of our team and feel this is the best decision for their health, safety, and well-being.”
“As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, our staff will continue to find creative and safe ways to develop our players,” she said. “We are united in this approach and we will use this time to get ready for the 2021-22 season.”
Foster was promoted to interim coach April 20 following the resignation of Jason Flowers, who was hired in September as director of player development for California Baptist University’s women’s basketball team.
The Matadors were 12-19 in the 2019-20 season with a 7-9 record in Big West Conference play, finishing seventh in the nine-team conference. Their season ended with a 67-52 loss to Cal State Fullerton in a first-round game of the conference tournament.