COVID-19 Opt-Outs Leave CSUN Water Polo Unable to Compete in 2021

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Yuri Cowie has 21 goals and 17 assists in her three seasons at CSUN. Her senior season will be lost to the inability to field enough players to compete in 2021.

NORTHRIDGE — Cal State Northridge Director of Athletics Mike Izzi has announced that the university will be unable to participate in women’s water polo during the 2021 season.

“While it is disappointing that the circumstances do not allow us to participate in the spring water polo season, the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes will always be our top priority,” said Izzi.

Last year, the NCAA directed all member institutions to provide student-athletes with an option to “opt out” of athletics participation due to concerns about contracting COVID-19. In doing so, the NCAA would allow them to keep that year of eligibility.

After several water polo players elected to opt out of the 2021 season, the Matadors’ remaining roster was below the minimum amount of players needed to compete in a match.

“Because of the unique stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequentially overwhelming reduction in the size of the team’s roster, I concur with the decision that the CSUN water polo team forego the 2021 competitive season,” said Head Team Physician Dr. Eric Sletten. “It is in the best interests for the health and safety of the student-athletes. Of course, our staff will remain available to attend to their physical and emotional needs.”

The women’s water polo student-athletes offered their thoughts in a statement.

“With a heavy heart, we have decided to opt out of the 2021 season. Although this news is very disappointing, we understand that everyone’s health and safety comes first. We are sad to miss out on another season; however, we are ready to put the extra work in next year. To the seniors, thank you for your dedication to this team and it hurts us to have to send you off without a proper goodbye.”

“As a team, we’ve come to the difficult decision that we will not compete in the spring 2021 season,” CSUN head coach Matt Warshaw said. “This decision is made with the health and safety of our student-athletes as our number one priority. The heartbreak and disappointment we are feeling is not comparable to those who’ve lost loved ones during this global pandemic. We remain a tight-knit family and look forward to competing and representing CSUN next season.”

The decision means Yuri Cowie will be among the seniors to miss out on their final season.

Members of the team will remain enrolled in classes, either virtually or in-person, as full-time stu­dents at CSUN.

CSUN will honor all existing athletics scholar­ships through the 2020-21 school year and also ensure that women’s water polo student-athletes receive any necessary student support services.

‑ CSUN Athletics

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