Mountain West announcement means later start for Fresno State football

News

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KGPE) – We finally got some clarity Wednesday on what the fall sports landscape will look like for Fresno State and the rest of the Mountain West, as the conference’s Board of Directors (BOD) agreed on an adjusted 2020 fall sports structure for football, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country.

According to a press release from the conference, the current plan is for Mountain West sponsored fall sports to begin competition no earlier than the week ending September 26. The football season will be comprised of an eight Conference game schedule with an option for each member to play two non-conference opponents, if they choose to do so. Potential dates for the 2020 Mountain West Football Championship Game include December 5, December 12 or December 19. Various scheduling models for the 2020 MW football season are under consideration and a final version will be announced once completed.

The league’s decision is designed to allow additional time to monitor ongoing developments related to the status of the COVID-19 virus, continue all necessary preparations for the potential return to competition and retain the opportunity for student-athletes to participate in their respective sports.

Before this announcement, Fresno State football was scheduled to open its 2020 season at Bulldog Stadium against Idaho State on Sept. 5., but that game will have to be moved to a later date if it is still going to be played.

According the league’s annoucement, The MW’s revised fall sports plan will align with the requirements announced Wednesday by the NCAA Board of Governors.  It will also continue to be evaluated in the context of the virus status on member institution campuses and within the respective communities, and will be subject to directives from local, state and federal leaders. Should further modifications become necessary, including delay or cancellation of competition, the MW Board of Directors is prepared to do so.

Fall Olympic Sports competition will consist of Conference-only play, so there will be no women’s soccer or women’s volleyball postseason tournaments this season. Women’s soccer and women’s volleyball champions will be determined by regular-season competition, while options for men’s and women’s cross country continue to be reviewed. Schedule alternatives for league play in the respective sports have been developed and will be solidified in the coming weeks.

The Mountain West also announced all fall competition in the sports of men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, swimming and diving, indoor track and field, softball and baseball has been canceled. Continuation of workouts/training would be subject to NCAA legislation and guidance; state, local and campus parameters; and, institutional determination. Student-athletes in golf and tennis will remain eligible to compete unattached at institutional discretion and in accordance with NCAA regulations.

“The health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, staff and overall communities remain the first and foremost priority,” said Dr. Mary Papazian, President at San José State University and Chair of the MW Board of Directors, in the news release. “An incredible amount of thought and discussion from multiple perspectives went into making this decision. The modified fall structure supports the measures being taken by each of our institutions to ensure responsible return to play. We will continue to gather the best medical information available and lean on advice from public health professionals, as well as state and local officials, as we make decisions and necessary adjustments in the future.

The league also saying the Mountain West’s Directors of Athletics and Health and Safety Advisory Committee continue to meet on policies and procedures for the return of student-athletes to competition, including the development of comprehensive testing and reporting procedures, building on the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines. In addition, each game management department across the league has been engaged in evaluating best practices for game operations to prepare a properly structured environment for student-athletes, coaches, staff, officials and other individuals necessary to conduct games.

“We have deliberated these issues fully as a Conference since the start of the pandemic, and I want to thank the Mountain West Board of Directors, Directors of Athletics and the MW Health and Safety Advisory Committee for their collaborative efforts during this unique time,” said MW Commissioner Craig Thompson, in the news release. “The health and welfare of our student-athletes and campus communities continue to be paramount in our decision-making process. The modified fall structure as presently configured allows flexibility and time for our athletic programs to be in the best possible position to play collegiate sports this season. There is still a lot of work to be done and many important decisions to be made. Today’s announcement provides a path forward as we navigate the weeks ahead.”

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