Sep 7, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Eastern Kentucky Colonels quarterback Conor Blount (10) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during second quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

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Ohio Valley postpones league play; nonconference football OK’d

The Ohio Valley Conference announced Friday that it is postponing fall sports competition due to the coronavirus pandemic but is leaving the door open for football programs to play up to four nonconference games this fall.

The Ohio Valley, part of the Football Championship Subdivision, said football programs would have to meet health and safety protocols to play nonconference contests. The conference part of the slate was postponed, along with the men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball seasons.

Fall action in men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball and softball also was pushed back.

Published reports indicate the Ohio Valley is hopeful of conducting a seven-game football season in the spring.

“After careful deliberation, weighing all the factors as presented, and given the current uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the OVC Board of Presidents voted to postpone the Conference’s fall sports to the spring,” Ohio Valley commissioner Beth DeBauche said in a statement. “With the focus on student-athletes, the Conference leaders made this value-based decision with a commitment to continue to monitor the evolving situation and to strive to establish meaningful competitive opportunities in the spring for our fall sport student-athletes.”

Most FCS programs schedule at least one road nonconference football game against a Football Bowl Subdivision program to bring in much-needed money.

Jacksonville State athletic director Greg Seitz indicated that his school will be seeking to schedule nonconference games.

“The overwhelming majority of our athletes want to compete this Fall,” Seitz said in a statement. “While the OVC moved the conference schedule to the spring, the conference presidents voted today to permit conference schools to play up to four nonconference games. We are working diligently to provide our football team the opportunity to play an exciting and meaningful schedule this fall while maintaining the rigorous health protocols which were already established.”

The Ohio Valley’s decision means that all 13 FCS conferences have postponed their fall sports seasons, according to ESPN.

In addition to Jacksonville State, the Ohio Valley consists of Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Murray State, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee-Martin, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

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