LARAMIE — For now, the plug has been pulled on Wyoming’s football season.
The Mountain West on Monday announced the postponement of football and the rest of its fall sports indefinitely. In a release, the league said it will start to “explore the feasibility” of rescheduling fall sports competitions, which includes the possibility of playing a football season in the spring.
Wyoming, one of the Mountain West’s 12 football members, was scheduled to hold its first full practice of fall camp Tuesday. Practices have been postponed indefinitely.
“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and overall communities,” said Mary Papazian, San Jose State’s president and chair of the Mountain West Board of Directors. “Through the hard work of many over the past several months, the conference made every effort to create an opportunity for our student-athletes to compete, and we empathize with the disappointment this creates for everyone associated with our programs. The best interest of our students and student-athletes remain our focus, and we will persist in our efforts to forge a viable and responsible path forward.”
The Mountain West said it decided to postpone fall sports “in response to ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus in conjunction with athletic competition.” The news comes on the heels of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) canceling fall football over the weekend and rampant speculation that other Football Bowl Subdivision conferences could soon follow suit.
The Mountain West joins the MAC as the only FBS conferences to pull the plug on a fall season so far, though some Power Five conferences are contemplating making the move. Reports began circulating Sunday night that Big Ten brass was in favor of postponing the season until the spring, which ignited #WeWantToPlay, a movement that circulated on social media among college football players across the country in support of playing a fall season.
The Mountain West’s announcement comes less than a week after the league proposed a revised 10-game schedule for its teams consisting of an eight-game conference slate and as many as two non-conference games. As part of that announcement, the league said Wednesday that all football scheduling models were still being reviewed and that a final decision would be made at a later time.
“Since the start of the pandemic, our membership and staff have been working diligently to prepare for a fall sports season,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “We were hopeful we could carefully and responsibly conduct competition as originally scheduled with the 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.”
As for the financial impact of the league’s final decision on UW, Burman told the Star-Tribune in July that no football at all this fall would cost the school roughly $10.5 million in revenue. A spring season would help UW recover some of that, but for member schools in states such as Wyoming and Colorado, when exactly a spring season would start is the most pressing question given the brutal winter conditions.
“That’s worrisome to me,” Burman said last month of a spring season that would begin any earlier than March. “Obviously COVID-19 is a big health issue, but if you play a game in Laramie, Wyoming, at 7,220 feet (of elevation) or in Colorado Springs or Logan, Utah, in February, good luck.”
The league also said discussions regarding the status of winter sports, which include men’s basketball, are ongoing.
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.
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