The delayed Football Bowl Subdivision season is coming back in full, as the Mid-American on Friday became the final conference to announce it’s back in for a 2020 season that has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am pleased to inform our student athletes, coaches, and fans, that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season,” MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said in the conference’s press release. “Our decisions, in August and again today, have been guided by an overriding concern for the well-being of the student athletes, institutions, and the community at large. Our medical advisory group, presidents, directors of athletics, and others, have worked hard to develop a plan that provides the opportunity for student athletes to compete. We will be diligent in monitoring the dynamic health environment across the conference footprint and the country.”
The conferences that had postponed all fall sports in August began to reverse their stance on football when games started earlier this month. The ball got rolling with the Big Ten’s Sept. 16 announcement that it will return to football on Oct. 23-24. The Pac-12 and Mountain West followed last week, while the MAC followed Friday to make it 10 of out 10 FBS conferences playing football.
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“The Council of Presidents has been having fulsome discussions with our Mid-American Conference medical advisors,” Mid-American Conference Council of Presidents chair and University at Buffalo president Dr. Satish Tripathi said in the release. “Throughout these discussions, we have underscored that the health and safety of our student-athletes, and our entire Mid-American Conference university community, is paramount. As a result, our conference’s medical advisors have established comprehensive protocols and procedures to safeguard our student-athletes during practice and competition. We appreciate the effort of the many medical professionals who have contributed to this sound plan to initiate the fall football season.”
The MAC won’t be taking the field for more than a month, as the six-game conference season will begin Nov. 4 and conclude with the league championship game on Dec. 18 or Dec. 19. The conference is requiring four COVID-19 antigen tests per week, beginning Oct. 5. All positive tests must be confirmed by a polymerase chain reaction test, while any student that tests positive will enter a cardiac screening protocol.
MAC games won’t have any members of the general public in attendance, while tailgating is also prohibited. The conference had announced Aug. 8 that it was postponing all fall sports with the hopes of playing in the spring.
“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 Steinbrecher’s announcement said in August. “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.”
Football is the traditional fall sport returning this fall in the MAC.
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