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Old Westbury Team Sports Suspended for At Least 2 Years Due to COVID-19

Just 14 months after the New York Institute of Tech- nology’s 2019 rebranding of its sports teams and bear mascot now seems to have been all for nothing since all of New York Tech’s NCAA sports programs have been sus- pended. Dan Velez, New York Tech’s athletic director, believes the suspension was an unfortunate result of the national COVID-19 pandemic. “The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to all facets of our lives. Higher education and intercollegiate athletics were no ex- ception,” he stated. When discussing, he explained the reason for the re- branding was “to create a new brand identity that would resonate with our alumni as well as future generations.” The rebranding was not “rushed into” so to speak, Velez shared “We had discussed a rebrand for some time in- ternally in athletics. When the university announced and undertook its own rebranding process we decided that this was the time to do it, to make sure that athletics branding was in line with the university’s.” Just two weeks before classes were to begin, all stu- dents and staff were notified through an email stating that NCAA sports had now been suspended for at least the next two years. Coach Velez was informed the morning of Aug. 20. “The decision was made by senior leadership,”Velez said, agreeing the suspension decision was ultimately nec- essary but unfortunate. Student athletes and coaches were heartbroken with this final decision after looking forward for so long to this new era they would’ve had after these new rebranding plans were implemented. “My primary role at this time is to assist, advise and guide the student athletes through this incredibly chal- lenging time,” he said. Like many student athletes, Tom Urena, a junor NCAA lacrosse defenseman who had just transferred to St. John’s University Division One NCAA La- crosse Program, was very shocked. “I never thought this would’ve happened to a program that actually does well,” he said, of NewYork Tech sports. While the future looks very uncertain for New York Tech’s athletic department and its sports programs, it’s important to know that the COVID-19 virus is an ongoing worldwide issue. “With all of the challenges that the pandemic has brought to society ... all areas of the university are under intensepressure to ensure that we are fulfilling the mission of New York Institute of Technology,” Velez said. Writer, Aiden Fitzpatrick, a Long Island campus lacrosse player on a sports scholarship, who is transferring to Springfield College next semester.

Group of NYIT Lacrosse players huddled up as they celebrate at a game

before COVID-19

Photo by Wenzhe Wang

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