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College football: Mountain West, Mid-American conferences vote to start seasons

Boise State University, and the Mountain West's 11 other member schools, can resume their college football seasons Oct. 24 after conference officials approved a plan to play on Thursday night. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Boise State University, and the Mountain West's 11 other member schools, can resume their college football seasons Oct. 24 after conference officials approved a plan to play on Thursday night. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- The Mountain West Conference intends to play an eight-game college football schedule that starts Oct. 24 after altering initial plans to postpone the season until spring 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mountain West board members met Thursday and approved the plan to resume football competitions. The conference issued an indefinite suspension for fall sports Aug. 10. The Mountain West's plan before the pandemic struck was to start the season Aug. 29.

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The conference announced in early August that it would postpone games until the weekend of Sept. 26, before its latest agreement for an October kickoff.

Nevada, Hawaii, San Jose State, San Diego State, UNLV and Fresno State comprise the Mountain West's West Division. Boise State, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah State are in the Mountain Division.

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The conference championship is planned for Dec. 19. All competitions are subject to state, county and local approvals, as well as COVID-19 testing and safety protocols.

"This is a great opportunity to get our student-athletes back on the field of competition in a cautious and regulated fashion," Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a news release.

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The conference said each member institution will determine stadium capacities based on state, county and local health ordinances. Individual football schedules will be announced later.

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On Friday, the Mid-American Conference followed suit and announced it will begin its football season on Nov. 4 and play a six-game, conference-only schedule.

The MAC on Aug. 8 became the first FBS conference to postpone the fall football season due to the coronavirus. The league said its championship game will take place on Dec. 18 or 19.

The university presidents unanimously approved the decision based on the recommendation of the conference's medical advisory panel.

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"I am pleased to inform our student-athletes, coaches and fans that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season," MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement Friday. "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 announcements from the MAC and MWC came after the Pac-12 announced Thursday it will play a seven-game, conference-only football schedule beginning in early November. No fans will be allowed to attend on-campus Pac-12 football games.

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The Big Ten announced Sept. 16 it would resume football activities and start its 2020 football season Oct. 24, meaning all 10 FBS conferences will have fall football seasons this year.

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