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Nevada will not play football this fall as Mountain West cancels fall sports season

Toa Taua
Toa Taua celebrates a touchdown scored against Ohio in last year's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

Nevada will not play football this fall.

The Mountain West postponed its 2020 football season Monday afternoon due to COVID-19. The news was first reported by Stadium's Brett McMurphy. About an hour later, the MW sent out a news release announcing the postponement of football and the other fall sports.

"The Mountain West has announced the indefinite postponement of all scheduled fall sports contests and MW championship events in response to ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus in conjunction with athletic competition," the conference said. "The MW Board of Directors prioritized the physical and mental health and well-being of the conference’s student-athletes and overall campus communities in its decision – as it has done throughout the course of the pandemic."

In addition to football, the MW's fall sports include women's soccer, volleyball and men's and women's cross country. The conference will consider playing football in the spring as it tries to cobble together a season in the unprecedented wake of a worldwide pandemic.

"The Mountain West will begin to explore the feasibility of rescheduling fall sports competition, including the possibility of those sports competing in the spring, and develop options for consideration," the conference said. "Athletically-related activities and training opportunities for enrolled student-athletes will also be evaluated consistent with NCAA legislation and guidance, as well as state, local and campus parameters."

The Mountain West is the second Group of 5 conference to cancel football this fall, joining the Mid-American Conference. The Big Ten and Pac-12, both power conferences, also have had discussions about canceling fall football, although neither conference has officially announced a move. Nor has the Mountain West to this point, although the conference is expected to make it official later Monday, according to McMurphy.

Last week, the Mountain West presidents overwhelmingly supported an effort to play football this fall as the conference announced last Wednesday it would cut its season from 12 games to 10, including eight within the conference and up to two non-conference games per school. Just five days later, the MW made the decision to cancel the fall football season and try and regroup in the spring. McMurphy reported an increase number of positive COVID-19 cases and the MAC's decision to cancel its season led to the MW's pulling the plug playing in the fall.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and overall communities,” said Dr. Mary Papazian, President at San José State University and Chair of the MW 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 interests of our students and student-athletes remain our focus and we will persist in our efforts to forge a viable and responsible path forward.”

In total, 26 out of 130 FBS schools have now opted out of playing this fall if you include the 12 schools in the Mountain West.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our membership and staff have been working diligently to prepare for a fall sports season,” MW commissioner Craig Thompson said. “We were hopeful we could carefully and responsibly conduct competition as originally scheduled with 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.”

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