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Mountain West makes some major changes to the 2020-21 season

Owen Sharts
Owen Sharts and the Nevada baseball team won't compete in a conference tournament in 2021. (Byrne Photo/Nevada athletics)

The Mountain West, faced with financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19, announced some major changes for the 2020-21 season.

Among those changes are:

* Eliminating the baseball, men’s and women’s tennis and women’s soccer tournaments. (Regular-season champions will get the MW's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.)

* Allowing schools to schedule a second non-Division I opponent in men’s basketball, replacing an RPI of 250 or worse. (Non-Division I game are a lot cheaper to schedule.)

* Use a 16-match modified double-round robin schedule in women’s volleyball. (Volleyball had 18 conference games previously.)

* Reduce conference baseball and softball series from three days to two (one doubleheader and single game).

* Reducing conference office operating budget by 18 percent and diminishing staff travel to regular-season contests, selected conventions and appropriate professional development seminars. Conference staff salaries will be frozen and open positions will not be immediately replaced.

* Freezing officiating fees in all sports.

* Move in-person coaches’ meetings and the conference’s 2020 spring and fall and the 2021 spring meetings,to virtual events.

* Adjust in-person football and basketball media days to virtual events.

* Host swimming championship and diving championship at separate venues on MW campuses over three days.

* Reduce men’s and women’s indoor track & field and men’s and women’s golf tournaments from three days to two, and men’s and women’s outdoor track & field from four to three days.

“The Mountain West Board of Directors and Directors of Athletics have collaborated for the past several weeks developing potential options to address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a news release. “The focus of this effort has been to protect opportunities for student-athletes and to maintain the intercollegiate athletics offerings at each member institution which are so integral to the fabric of the respective campuses. These unprecedented times demand creative solutions and great work has been done at the institutional level and collectively as a Conference.”

All measures are designed exclusively for the 2020-21 season. Further evaluation will be ongoing to determine if revisions are necessary moving forward.

The Mountain West also removed its indefinite suspension of in-person team athletic activities, which had been in place since March 26. The conference will allow voluntary in-person athletic workouts for all sports effective immediately. Each MW institution will have the discretion to make their determination within state, local, NCAA and campus guidelines.

The Mountain West Board of Directors also released a statement following the death of George Floyd. It reads:

"Racial injustice and acts of violence against members of our communities are never acceptable. The member institutions of the Mountain West together reaffirm our commitment to the principles of inclusiveness and equity for all, which are core values for the Conference and our individual institutions. We are compelled to come together as a Conference and society to promote understanding and respectfully address these issues in our nation. By virtue of our diverse communities, higher education and intercollegiate athletics continue to offer a platform by which positive social change can be realized."

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