LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Mountain West Conference announced the indefinite postponement of all scheduled fall sports contests, including most notably football, due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Along with UNLV and University of Nevada, Reno, schools that are members of the conference include: Air Force Academy, Boise State University, Colorado State, Fresno State, University of New Mexico, San Diego State University, San Jose State University, Utah State University and University of Wyoming.
The Mountain West is the second major collegiate league to postpone their football season, following the Mid-American Conference, which made their decision this past Saturday. The two conferences are among 10 that comprise the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Meanwhile, leaders from what is known as the Power 5, which are the Big 12, Big 10, Pac-12, SEC and ACC, have been discussing the upcoming season. The potential of postponing the season has prompted a number of top players and coaches to push for universities to allow play this fall, despite concerns over the coronavirus.
“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and overall communities,” said Dr. Mary Papazian, President at San José State University and Chair of the Mountain West Board of Directors, said in a statement announcing the decision. “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.”
Other sports impacted by today’s decision are men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball (with the exception of the unique circumstances involved with the military service academies).
The Mountain West said in a statement that it will begin to explore the feasibility of rescheduling fall sports competition, including the possibility of those sports competing in the spring, and develop options for consideration.
“Since the start of the pandemic, our membership and staff have been working diligently to prepare for a fall sports season,” said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. “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.”
Last week, the league announced that all fall competition in the sports of men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, softball and baseball were canceled. At this time, there are ongoing discussions regarding the status of winter sports.
"The power 5 conferences - they have the budgets, they have the money to spend on COVID testing, whereas the smaller conferences and smaller schools probably don't," said Tony Cordasco, a longtime Rebel announcer. He said when it comes to non-power 5 conferences, much of the reasoning for canceling or postponing college football has to do with economics.
"They want them to be safe and secure, yes, but with COVID related illnesses, the players want assurances that even 5 years after they leave the school, all their medical expenses would be taken care of by the school and that turns into a lot of money," said Cordasco.
Cordasco said creating a bubble like the NHL or NBA just isn't feasible with football, professional or college. He doesn't expect a potential pause to impact UNLV's momentum when it comes to the new coaches, training complex and recruiting but that doesn't mean current players won't lose out.
"I always think about the student-athletes or high school athletes where they continue to grow during the off season. They continue to mature, they get bigger, they get stronger, they get faster. And they're going through these periods now and they have to be able to harness that energy into football, into athletics."