The Mountain West Conference Board of Directors met last night and approved plans to resume football competition following the Aug. 10 indefinite postponement of fall sports due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Conference’s amended regular-season schedule will begin on Saturday, Oct. 24, with the intent to play eight games. The MW Football Championship Game is slated for Saturday, Dec. 19. Any return to competition is subject to state, county and local approvals.
The Mountain West has partnered with Quest Diagnostics to implement testing protocols across all member institutions. The agreement with Quest delivers frequent testing with rapid results, providing a major step forward for sport competition to resume. The Mountain West will require all football student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field to undergo testing three times per week. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.
“The health and well-being of our student-athletes continue to guide all decisions,” said Dr. Mary Papazian, San José State University President and Chair of the MW Board of Directors. “The availability of rapid testing addresses one of the main concerns that was expressed by our Board, the MW Health and Safety Advisory Committee, as well as by student-athletes and coaches. Our student-athletes have voiced their desire to compete, and it is the Board’s shared opinion that football can be conducted with appropriate mitigation. We continue to learn more about the virus each day and will continue to monitor the pandemic moving forward. We will be ready to change course if necessary should new information come forth, or we feel an appropriate environment cannot be sustained on our campuses.”
The MW is in the process of finalizing thresholds for competition interruption, monitoring test results, and other health and safety protocols that are consistent with NCAA resocialization guidelines.
“This is a great opportunity to get our student-athletes back on the field of competition in a cautious and regulated fashion,” commented MW Commissioner Craig Thompson. “We appreciate the efforts our Board, Directors of Athletics, Health and Safety Advisory Committee and Conference staff have put into developing the necessary parameters for our students-athletes to return to competition. The rapid testing element was critical for us to provide an effective solution for our athletes, coaches, officials and event staff.”
Stadium capacities will be determined by each member institution in accordance with state, county and local health ordinances in consultation with government officials. A complete 2020 Mountain West football schedule will be forthcoming.
USU Athletics Head Football Coach Gary Andersen – "We are excited that our team has the opportunity to compete and play this fall. There is much work to do and lost time to make up, so we are already hard at work preparing to put the best product out on the field."
USU Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell – "I am thrilled for Aggie Nation that football is returning this fall. It is great for the University, our students, alums, fans, the people of Cache Valley, etc. I am most excited for our student-athletes and coaches, who have been through so much, to now have a season to play. We are appreciative of the work of the Mountain West Conference staff, the Presidents of the institutions in the Mountain West, the MWC Medical Advisory Group, our football coaches, and my fellow Athletic Directors for getting us to this point. We know there are still challenges ahead over the next month of practice and the following two months of games, but we will navigate those and look forward to seeing our Aggie Football team on the field competing for a Mountain West Championship."