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Eastern Washington University Football
Sports >  EWU football

Reports: Big Sky Conference football members will likely play in the spring

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 6, 2020

Eastern Washington University’s bench looks on during a 35-27 loss to Idaho on Sept. 21, 2019, at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Eastern Washington University’s bench looks on during a 35-27 loss to Idaho on Sept. 21, 2019, at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho. (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Several reports Thursday suggest that the Big Sky Conference is aiming for a spring football season.

Big Sky officials convened Thursday to discuss potential options for the upcoming athletic year and to ultimately vote on a plan for a football season in limbo due to the novel coronavirus.

The league is expected to make an announcement Friday, the day Eastern Washington was initially set to begin practice. Idaho moved the start of its fall camp back to Aug. 14.

Reporters from around the Big Sky cited sources in the meetings Thursday who conveyed that a spring season is the likely option.

Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen told the school’s student newspaper Thursday that the Hornets will play football in the spring, saying “We just don’t think it’s safe right now for our players.”

Portland State football coach Bruce Barnum told KPTV in Portland the Big Sky plans to play an eight-game conference schedule in the spring, aligning with earlier reports of a similar format.

Skyline Sports, a Montana-based website that covers the Big Sky extensively, said it spoke with a league athletic director who said a recommendation was given Thursday for a three-game nonconference schedule to be played in the fall or spring and eight-game spring spring schedule.

It’s unclear if the league plans to pursue a three-game fall schedule, which appears to be an arduous pursuit, logistically, because the 13-member conference has schools in eight states with different reopening phases and social distancing mandates.

{span}EWU, Sacramento State UC Davis, Cal Poly and Portland State can’t have full practices, currently, due to local restrictions. {/span}

The Spokesman-Review reached out to EWU earlier this week to discuss the matter, but the school said athletic director Lynn Hickey would be available for comment Friday afternoon.

Hero Sports and Football Championship Subdivision football expert Brian McLaughlin, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy and longtime Oregonian columnist John Canzano posted tweets Thursday that Big Sky football was a no-go this fall, but conference officials refuted to other sources that nothing was official.

Brady Frederick, the sports director at KLEW in Lewiston, tweeted that the Big Sky “has not canceled the season, despite what some are reporting,” citing Idaho’s sports information director.

Before Thursday’s Big Sky meeting, six of the country’s 13 FCS conferences opted out of a fall season and the status of a postseason wasn’t yet determined.

The NCAA Board of Governors announced Wednesday that if at least 50% of the country’s FCS programs planned to pursue a fall season, it would sanction a postseason, but that was before the Big Sky and Frontier League reportedly opted out.

NCAA Division II and Division III football elected to not pursue a fall postseason.

The Football Championship Subdivision appears to still be pursuing a fall season, but most Power 5 conferences have adopted conference-only schedules, including Florida, which was slated to open the season against EWU.

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