Monday, August 10, 2020

UIS AD Peyton Deterding remains optimistic for upcoming school year

University of Illinois Springfield athletic director Peyton Deterding has been on the job for less than a year.

He fortunately had some time to acclimate to Springfield before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early March. His first day at UIS was Dec. 9 last year.

Spring sports, which had just begun, were canceled and little has improved since then. The Great Lakes Valley Conference in late July postponed most fall sports — except cross country — until the spring semester and the NCAA Division II Presidents Council decided Wednesday to cancel its fall championships. The council “determined that it was not feasible to hold fall championships as planned or to postpone them to the spring while prioritizing the health and well-being of student-athletes,” according to the NCAA announcement. The NCAA Division III Presidents Council also reached the same decision.

Deterding maybe hasn’t been able to explore town as much as he would’ve liked due to the quarantine, but at least he can now look forward to the return of students on Aug. 24.

“We’re excited to get our student-athletes back on campus because to be honest with you, it’s been some time,” Deterding said. “It’s been early March since we’ve had all of them back and interacting. We’ve had a few here in the early summer doing voluntary workouts. It was great to see them, but we’re excited to get the whole crew back.”

Deterding said he feels confident about their impending arrival on a small and more manageable campus and said athletic activity won’t largely begin humming along until early September.

“They will do some voluntary stuff, but ... we’ll look at what’s safe at that time,” Deterding said. “That, again, is changing daily as we all know. Safety is paramount for us. That’s no surprise, but we will get them back and cross country will be the first to embark on a true team practice, which will be in the late August time frame. But we want to get kids back on campus, acclimated to how things are operating now because there are some nuances and differences. But we feel comfortable with that. I think we have a great plan in place as far as the university’s perspective.”

Deterding said he is characteristically optimistic, despite the adversity imposed by the pandemic. He believes the postponed sports, soccer and volleyball, may start in early March and hopes basketball will begin as planned in mid-November. However, he expects the regular season for men’s and women’s basketball to be largely limited to conference-play. The GLVC has set Oct. 1 as the deadline to determine the competition start date for men’s and women’s basketball, each considered high risk by the NCAA.

“I hope so,” Deterding said of the mid-November start. “I try to remain positive. I’m generally a positive person. But I remain pretty positive that we’re going to play sport — all of our sports — during the academic calendar. That will continue to be our focus and try to do it in a safe manner and provide the opportunity to compete.”

He also stressed he wants to build a bigger presence in the area.

“I think there’s great opportunity and I say that because I’m not sure — at least in my early time here — how well known UIS is to the community,” Deterding said. “We’re in close proximity to everybody. We’re a little isolated, but we’re a valuable resource. I think that needs to be stated. Again, I think we need to get some folks out and see what we have to offer and get them out to some games and have them engage and interact.

“I know from the very first month on campus that we’re very high school sports dominated here. That allows an opportunity. There’s a passion for sport.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 8, 2020.