The reigning Golden Coast Conference (GCC) men’s water polo champions, the Pepperdine Waves, won’t begin their swim toward another conference title until next year.
The GCC men’s water polo executive committee announced in a July 31 statement that the conference’s season won’t begin at least until January because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Mike Daniels, the league’s commissioner, said they are hopeful the season will begin once the calendar flips to 2021.
“The pandemic has had a major impact in the state of California over the last few weeks, which has forced us to make some tough decisions in collegiate athletics,” he said.
The Waves won the GCC tournament last November for the first time since 1997. The squad finished the 2019 season with a 25-8 record and advanced all the way to the NCAA water polo semifinal. Pepperdine head coach Terry Schroeder was named the GCC Coach of the Year for the second time and five players—Balazs Kosa, Chris Dilworth, Marko Asic, Sean Thomas and Mate Toth—were named to the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-American list.
GCC Men’s Water Polo Executive Committee Chair Andy Fee said the choice to delay the season was difficult and will be a challenge for players, coaches and administrators, but the committee focused on the safety, health and well-being of campus communities.
“COVID-19 has challenged each of us in ways we could never have imagined, and we are proud that our student-athletes and coaches are handling this difficult time with resiliency and determination,” Fee said in the statement. “We are hopeful that creative thinking and science will emerge to mitigate and reduce risk to allow competition in spring 2021. The GCC Executive Committee will continue to monitor trends and discuss possible competitive scenarios as we move forward.”
Pepperdine and the conference’s other squads can practice and train as long as allowed by government, NCAA and university guidelines. Once the NCAA creates a plan for the national championship, the GCC will release a revised schedule.
The West Coast Conference, the league in which several other Pepperdine athletic teams compete, announced on July 16 that conference teams will not take the field in any competition before Sept. 24. The move impacts men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. Men’s and women’s basketball, set to begin on Nov. 10, are not affected by the fall sports delay. Spring sports are also not impacted.
Pepperdine put the date into effect for its non-WCC teams, which includes men’s water polo, men’s volleyball, women’s swimming and diving, and track.
Like GCC officials, WCC Commissioner Gloria Nevarez said the postponement was necessary to have a healthy environment for athletes to compete.
“We have worked on plans for a variety of circumstances and believe, with our actions guided by information and science, this is the responsible decision at this time,” she said. “We will continue to evaluate our best path moving forward with the health and safety of everyone involved as the guiding principle of our discussions.”