The Nevada Wolf Pack may have to prepare for drastic changes during the 2020-21 college athletics season.
Division I college programs around the country are scheduling conference-only games, while the Ivy League has canceled all fall sports for the year. As the new college season approaches, the Mountain West Conference may follow the restrictions set by other Division I schools and institute changes which will affect Nevada’s upcoming season.
The Big Ten Conference elected to eliminate its non-conference schedule for all fall sports on July 9, just one day after the Ivy League’s decision.
The Big Ten was the first Power 5 conference to limit its fall sports schedule. According to Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is expected to play conference-only games for 2020, but a final decision will be made by late July. Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic reported that the Pac-12 conference is expected to play conference-only games as well.
In a report by ESPN, South Eastern Conference (SEC) Commissioner Greg Sankey said he is concerned for the upcoming college football season, and a deadline to make a decision regarding the fall sports schedule will be made by late July. The Big 12 Conference will also make a final decision on college football and remaining fall sports later this month.
Power 5 conferences are putting restrictions on the fall sports season, and other college programs may be forced to follow those same procedures. The Mountain West Conference released the following statement on Friday, July 12 regarding the 2020-21 college athletics season.
“As has been the case since the onset of the pandemic, we are fully engaged with our membership and advisors on a nearly daily basis exploring the myriad of potential scenarios around returning to competition,” the statement reads. “We were aware of this possibility and will continue to evaluate the appropriate decisions and the proper timing going forward. The safety, health, and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, staff members and campuses remain our top priority.”
If the Mountain West Conference establishes a conference-only schedule, it will have a ripple effect on the Wolf Pack’s fall sports season. Nevada football had four non-conference matchups slated against UC Davis, Arkansas, UTEP and South Florida that may be put in jeopardy.
Transitioning to conference games doesn’t just impact Nevada football; every sport on campus can be potentially affected. All 14 combined men’s and women’s Division I sports will have to adjust to new scheduling conflicts within conference play throughout the year.
Along with scheduling conflicts, fan capacity will be capped, with or without a conference schedule. A 50 percent reduction is expected to be put in place at the 27,000-seat Mackay Stadium this upcoming year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted college sports across the globe. The Mountain West Conference’s decision can impact Nevada’s upcoming sports season in a multitude of ways. Despite the obstacles, optimism remains that Nevada football will still take place along with other fall sports to start the 2020 season.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SagebrushSports.