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Mountain West Issues Statement On Fall Sports After Big Ten’s Decision To Play Football In 2020

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Following the Big Ten Conference’s decision to play football in the fall of 2020, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said that his conference is “working daily on solutions” to bring back football “at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Thompson released a statement shortly after the Big Ten’s decision on Wednesday, September 16.

“Multiple subgroups within the Conference are working daily on solutions to the existing challenges in order to facilitate a return to play for Mountain West football, and other Conference sport programs, at the earliest possible opportunity,” Thompson said in the statement. “This includes finalizing a plan for frequent, rapid response testing and continuing to monitor the status of public health directives in our MW states and communities.”

Big Ten’s decision

The Big Ten reversed course on its decision to postpone fall football on September 16. The conference’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors “adopted significant medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition.”

Football in the conference will start on the weekend of October 23-24.

Pac-12’s statement

Shortly after the Big Ten’s decision, like the Mountain West, the Pac-12 Conference released a statement.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott highlighted government restrictions in California and Oregon, where many of the conference’s schools are located, as a holdup for necessary events in order to play a football season such as “contact practice.”

“At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice,” Scott stated. “We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition. We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time. We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals.”

Mountain West’s postponement of fall sports

Thompson’s statement comes over a month after the Mountain West decided to postpone fall sports, including football. The conference pushed the season due to COVID-19 player health and safety concerns. The Mountain West reportedly hoped to return to the gridiron in the spring of 2021.

After the Mountain West’s decision, Utah State athletic director John Hartwell released a statement.

“While we are disappointed about the postponement of our fall sports and the opportunities for our student-athletes to compete, the safety and well-being of those student-athletes has been, is and always will be our No. 1 priority,” Hartwell said in a statement on August 10. “This has been a stressful time for our student-athletes with all the uncertainties regarding their competitive seasons, and even though sports will not be played this fall, we will continue to provide the resources necessary for their mental health and well-being, and academic successes.”