Aztec football to drop to 10-game schedule; most other fall sports will only play conference opponents
Photo courtesy goaztecs.com
August 5, 2020 (San Diego) - Earlier today, the Mountain West Board of Directors agreed on an adjusted 2020 fall sports structure for football, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country. This decision was designed to allow additional time to monitor ongoing developments related to the status of the COVID-19 virus, continue all necessary preparations for the potential return to competition and retain the opportunity for student-athletes to participate in their respective sports.
The MW’s revised fall sports plan will align with the requirements announced today by the NCAA Board of Governors. It will also continue to be evaluated in the context of the virus status on member institution campuses and within the respective communities, and will be subject to directives from local, state and federal leaders. Should further modifications become necessary, including delay or cancellation of competition, the MW Board of Directors is prepared to do so.
“The Mountain West athletic directors and the conference office worked hard to develop a game plan for fall sports that will allow student-athletes to have a great experience and take in to account their health and well-being,” said SDSU Director of Athletics John David Wicker. “Starting the season later allows us the opportunity to learn from professional sports and other conferences and continue to develop the best protocols possible to ensure the safest return to play model possible.”
With the new timeline announced by the MW, SDSU will kick off its season no earlier than the week of Sept. 26. San Diego State will still play eight conference games with the option to play two non-conference opponents. Depending on the need to potentially reschedule regular-season games, the 2020 Mountain West Football Championship game will be played on either Dec. 5, Dec. 12 or Dec. 19. Various scheduling models for the 2020 MW football season are under consideration and will be announced when completed.
Football Head Coach Brady Hoke on the MW Announcement:
“It is exciting to get some positive news about a football season, but the safety and health is the first thing. It gives us an opportunity to make sure our protocols are in place for the safety and health of the student-athletes, the staff, the athletic trainers and everyone associated with the program. We will continue to be smart as coaches and players on how we proceed. I can’t say enough about our administration, our athletic trainers and our strength (and conditioning) coaches. Obviously, we have put protocols with social distancing in mind and how we have gone about preparing for a season. I like the way our student-athletes have understood why we are doing it. Our guys want to play football and they know we can be a great example of how to follow procedures that are for the safety of everybody involved.”
Options for the 2020 cross country season continue to be reviewed. An updated schedule is expected in the coming weeks.
Cross Country Head Coach Shelia Burrell on the MW Announcement:
“I think our athletes are looking forward to getting the opportunity to compete even with the limitations. They have been resilient in preparing on their own all summer and are looking forward to having a collegiate athletic experience. We all know that safety and health are our top priorities this fall and have made a commitment as a team to do the right things to ensure a positive experience.”
On July 31, the Pac-12 approved a conference-only scheduling plan for men’s soccer. Like the MW, the competition will start no earlier than the weekend of Sept. 26. The conference-only schedules will be designed to support health and safety, and maximize flexibility. The 2020 schedule is expected to be announced shortly. The Aztecs have competed in the Pac-12 since 2005 and join California, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Washington in the league. As in previous seasons, the winner of the regular season will earn the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
Men’s soccer Head Coach Ryan Hopkins on the Pac-12 Announcement:
“I’m very excited to get back on the field with the team if it can be safely done and I know our players are excited as well. The conferences and our administration have put in a lot of time and discussions so I’m optimistic that we can make it happen. Going forward, we have to continue to be vigilant with social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing to give us the best chance to play this fall.”
The Aztec women’s soccer team will play a conference-only schedule beginning no earlier than the weekend of Sept. 26. Unlike previous years where the MW tournament champion earned the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, this season the regular-season champion will get the nod. Schedule alternatives for league play have been developed and will be solidified in the coming weeks.
Women’s Soccer Head Coach Mike Friesen on the MW Announcement:
“People have been working very hard behind the scenes to make this season happen and we really appreciate those efforts. To get to this point has required a lot of people looking at a lot of scenarios and answering a lot of questions, but now we know what the challenge is that is ahead of us. Our players are back and training. The season has a clarity that it did not have just a few days ago. We have a point to focus on and we will be ready when the season starts.”
The SDSU volleyball team will play a season of conference-only matches beginning no earlier than the weekend of Sept 26. Like previous seasons, the winner of the regular season will earn the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Schedule alternatives for league play have been developed and will be solidified in the coming weeks.
Volleyball Head Coach Brent Hilliard on the MW Announcement:
“We are extremely excited to hear the news that a fall season will be played. Coaches and players have been anxiously waiting to hear this news and now that it is here, we are very appreciative of the direction it has taken. We can now focus on our new normal of preparing for the upcoming conference season. I'd like to thank all who were involved with this process as I know it couldn't have been easy. SDSU volleyball will be ready to go when that first match begins.”
All Aztec fall competition in the sports of men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, swimming and diving, indoor track and field, softball and baseball has been canceled. Continuation of workouts/training would be subject to NCAA legislation and guidance; state, local and campus parameters; and, institutional determination. Student-athletes in golf and tennis will remain eligible to compete unattached at institutional discretion and in accordance with NCAA regulations.
“The health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, staff and overall communities remain the first and foremost priority,” said Dr. Mary Papazian, President at San José State University and Chair of the MW Board of Directors. “An incredible amount of thought and discussion from multiple perspectives went into making this decision. The modified fall structure supports the measures being taken by each of our institutions to ensure responsible return to play. We will continue to gather the best medical information available and lean on advice from public health professionals, as well as state and local officials, as we make decisions and necessary adjustments in the future.”
The Mountain West’s Directors of Athletics and Health and Safety Advisory Committee continue to meet on policies and procedures for the return of student-athletes to competition, including the development of comprehensive testing and reporting procedures, building on the NCAA's Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines. In addition, each game management department across the league has been engaged in evaluating best practices for game operations to prepare a properly structured environment for student-athletes, coaches, staff, officials and other individuals necessary to conduct games.
“We have deliberated these issues fully as a Conference since the start of the pandemic, and I want to thank the Mountain West Board of Directors, Directors of Athletics and the MW Health and Safety Advisory Committee for their collaborative efforts during this unique time,” said MW Commissioner Craig Thompson. “The health and welfare of our student-athletes and campus communities continue to be paramount in our decision-making process. The modified fall structure as presently configured allows flexibility and time for our athletic programs to be in the best possible position to play collegiate sports this season. There is still a lot of work to be done and many important decisions to be made. Today’s announcement provides a path forward as we navigate the weeks ahead.”