COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Mountain West Conference announced Thursday night it will resume its football season next month after all.
The conference will play an 8-game schedule, starting Saturday Oct. 24, and culminating with the Mountain West Championship game on Dec. 19. — subject to approval from state, county, and local jurisdictions.
The league made the announcement in a tweet.
League spokesman Stuart Buchanan said more information will be distributed Friday morning.
Also, conference commissioner Craig Thompson and several other Mountain West administrators, as well as University of Nevada Dr. Tony A. Islas, and a representative from CAQ-Sports Medicine, a testing provider, will answer questions from the media on a zoom call Friday morning.
Friday afternoon, Fresno State Director of Athletics Terry Tumey and Head Football Coach Kalen DeBoer will also speak with the media over zoom.
On Aug. 10, the conference announced the indefinite postponement of all scheduled fall sports contests and MW championship events in response to ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus.
But last week in a news release, the conference sounded like it was leaning towards reversing course, and was encouraged about the possibility of resuming its season sometime in the fall, if they could secure the needed testing.
“The real trigger on this is the rapid-result testing,” Thompson said to the Associated Press. “And that’s the key, if we can get that. We’re talking to a number of manufacturers and providers. That has to be done really before any decisions can concretely be made.”
The COVID-19 situation in Fresno County — the County is still in the most restrictive tier according to California’s guidelines for re-opening — could complicate matters for Fresno State. But speaking Wednesday, after being tabbed as the next chancellor for the California State University school system, current Fresno State President Joseph Castro indicated he believed Fresno State had found a way to go forward safely.
“We found a path that is safe for them (student-athletes) and that’s been the key ingredient in my opinion and so we have found a path,” said Castro. “I think that if conditions continue to improve we should be able to get that path approved by the county, the public health department, the Chancellor’s office and move forward in that way.”
When they start official practices, the Bulldogs will have some catching up to do. It has been one of the few Division One schools in the country to not allow any of their student-athletes on campus, even for summer workouts, because of concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in Fresno County.
Some Mountain West programs had some spring practices, and others have been going through strength and conditioning workouts, or have been practicing in some capacity. Fresno State is the only Mountain West program that hasn’t held an organized team activity on campus since the pandemic hit in mid-March.
It appears fans will not be allowed for these Mountain West games. A story in the Coloradoan referenced an email Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker sent to fans on Thursday night, in which Joe wrote, “At this time, we do not anticipate that we will host fans for the four home games inside Canvas Stadium. “This is disappointing to everyone as there are so many fans who care deeply about Colorado State and want to support our student-athletes in person. The experience for our student-athletes is simply better when you are in the stands. We will continue to work closely with our state, county and university health officials to evaluate if the current no-fan status can change at some point.”
Parker also said in the email, “A complete 2020 (Mountain West) schedule, including television assignments, will be released in the coming days.”
The Mountain West announcement came hours after the Pac-12 announced they would be starting their season during the fall as well, after initially voting back in August to postpone all sport competitions through the end of the 2020 calendar year.
Their plan is to begin on Nov. 6 and play a seven-game, conference-only slate, and the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 18.
All five of college football’s major conferences now plan to play this fall.