The Mid-American Conference became the first FBS conference to announce that it would not be playing sports — including college football — this fall due to COVID-19.
According to Stadium, the decision was made on Saturday morning in a vote by presidents representing the league’s 12 members.
League presidents met on Thursday with the original intent of finalizing a football schedule for the fall, but it was at that Thursday meeting that Northern Illinois president Lisa Freeman indicated that the Huskies would not be playing in the fall due to health and safety concerns.
The league reportedly did not like the notion of NIU — which has made a record eight football championship games and won four of the past nine MAC titles — opting out on its own. After Thursday’s action, the league presidents regrouped and voted not to play the fall football season.
The pandemic and the health and safety concerns surrounding it were the primary reason for the decision, but an additional factor may have been the decisions by Power 5 conferences to play conference-only schedules. The MAC was one of the conferences most financially impacted by those decisions, losing out on a combined $10.5 million as the Big Ten canceled contests with 11 MAC opponents.
“The decision is grounded in the core values of the Conference that prioritize student-athlete well-being, an area the MAC has traditionally taken a leadership role,” said MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher in an announcement. “Clearly, we are charting a conservative path — and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group. It is a decision that affects roughly 2,500 student-athletes who live for the moment to compete. Those opportunities and moments are fleeting, and our student-athletes have a limited window in which to showcase their talent, passion, and drive for excellence. I am heartbroken we are in this place. However, I take comfort and want to give assurance to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans that we have their best interest at heart, and we will make every effort to provide competitive opportunities in the spring.”