The Mountain West has indefinitely postponed its football season and all fall sports due to safety concerns involving the coronavirus pandemic, the conference announced Monday.
The Mountain West Board of Directors said the decision was due to “ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus in conjunction with athletic competition.”
“Since the start of the pandemic, our membership and staff have been working diligently to prepare for a fall sports season,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “We were hopeful we could carefully and responsibly conduct competition as originally scheduled with essential protocols in place.
“However, numerous external factors and unknowns outside our control made this difficult decision necessary. I fully understand the impact of this outcome on our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff who work so hard daily to play the sports we all love, and I share in their disappointment. We will continue to navigate this pandemic together, overcome the obstacles and return to intercollegiate athletics at the earliest opportunity.”
The 12-team Mountain West joins the 12-team Mid-American Conference as Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) leagues that have postponed their football season and fall sports.
Counting independent Connecticut and Old Dominion of Conference USA — the latter announced Monday it was postponing football and fall sports — 26 FBS programs have opted out of the fall football season.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 could announce they won’t be conducting football seasons on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.
The Mountain West said it will study rescheduling the different sports — such as volleyball and soccer — in the spring. The league said training activities will be evaluated as well to ensure they are consistent with NCAA legislation and guidance and state, local and campus parameters.
“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and overall communities,” said Board Chairman Dr. Mary Papazian, the president of San Jose State. “Through the hard work of many over the past several months, the conference made every effort to create an opportunity for our student-athletes to compete, and we empathize with the disappointment this creates for everyone associated with our programs. The best interests of our students and student-athletes remain our focus and we will persist in our efforts to forge a viable and responsible path forward.”
UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois released a statement saying her university supports the decision.
“The health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and our entire community that supports them is our top priority and as it stands today, the conference determined that a safe enough path forward for competition could not be found,” Reed-Francois said.
San Diego State football coach Brady Hoke also said the decision was the right move.
“Although today is a difficult day, we know that we are making changes to the schedule for the safety and health of the players, and that is always the right thing to do,” Hoke said. “I am very disappointed for our student-athletes. They were excited in their commitment and preparation for the upcoming season. Now we are going to have to readjust.”
In addition to San Diego State and UNLV, the other football members of the Mountain West are Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Jose State, Utah State and Wyoming.
–Field Level Media