Not even a week after announcing a 10 game football schedule, the Mountain West has shelved those plans and cancelled the season.
The conference announced Monday that all scheduled fall sports have been indefinitely postponed due to the challenges in mitigating and managing COVID-19.
“Since the start of the pandemic, our membership and staff have been working diligently to prepare for a fall sports season,” said 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.”
Besides football, the conference has also cancelled men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. Last week, the conference announced that all other sports that compete in the fall were cancelled.
The Mountain West will consider holding all cancelled seasons – including football – in the spring, and the conference is holding discussions regarding the status of winter sports, which includes basketball.
The conference’s decision to cancel the football season follows the Mid-American Conference’s decision over the weekend to be the first major college football conference to cancel its season. The Big 10 is reportedly close to cancelling its season as well.
For Fresno State, the cancellation means first year head coach Kalen DeBoer’s long and unusual offseason continues. Since spring practice was cancelled due to the virus, DeBoer has not had an opportunity to see his team on the field in any capacity and will have to wait even longer.
“I am incredibly proud of each member of our program, including our student-athletes, coaches and support staff,” DeBoer said. “From the very beginning back on March 12, every member of our team has worked together to forge ahead and take care of business day in and day out despite dealing with such uncertain and unprecedented circumstances. Our young men and our coaches never wavered despite a continually moving target.
“They prepared daily to stay the course, and they represented themselves and our university like champions. It’s been said that adversity reveals character, and while these times have been challenging, I am so proud of the unity, progress and inspiring communication that has taken place, and will continue to take place, within our program.”
DeBoer commended the university leadership for their strong concern ensuring the health and safety of the students.
Fresno State Athletic Director Terry Tumey said the university supports the Mountain West’s decision.
“We are supportive of the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors’ decision regarding fall sports,” Tumey said. “As we have stated from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community have been, and will continue to be, our number one priority.
“We will continue to work diligently to provide our young men and women the resources needed to support their academic, athletic and personal development pursuits in alignment with Fresno State’s mission, to boldly educate and empower students for success.”
Photo: Fresno State Athletics