The Mountain West Conference announced drastic changes to its upcoming 2020 fall sports season on Wednesday, Aug. 5.
All fall sports including football, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, cross country, tennis, track and field, swimming and diving and men’s and women’s golf will begin competing no earlier than the week ending Sept. 26, pushing the fall sports season back at least one month.
Fall Olympic Sports competition will consist of conference-only play. 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 will be reviewed. The conference said schedule alternatives for league play in the respective sports have been developed and will be solidified in the coming weeks.
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, but may be allowed to start in the spring. The continuation of workouts or 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 conference said this decision allowed extra time to monitor ongoing developments with the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing all necessary precautions for a potential return to competition.
“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 in a press statement, president at San José State University and chair of the MW Board of Directors. “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.”
Power 5 conferences established a conference-only fall schedule earlier in the year, and the Mountain West will follow this upcoming season. Football will consist of eight conference games and allow up to two non-conference games per team. The Mountain West Football Championship Game will have potential dates of Dec. 5, Dec. 12 or Dec. 19.
Nevada football was originally scheduled to begin its 2020 season Aug. 29 against UC Davis followed by three more non-conference matchups against Arkansas, UTEP and South Florida. Arkansas is part of the SEC Conference, who moved to a conference-only schedule on July 30.
According to the statement, 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. Additionally, 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.
Further cancellations or delays to the fall sports season may become necessary as the year progresses.
“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 a press statement. “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.”