Butler University will not be playing football this fall. The Bulldogs play in the Pioneer Football League, which announced on Friday it will not conduct a league schedule due to coronavirus concerns. Butler is one of the nine members in the PFL.
"The PFL membership is spread from coast-to-coast and throughout the Midwest which poses challenges related to team travel, as well as difficulties meeting applicable state, local and institutional health requirements and COVID-19 mitigation strategies," the league said in a statement. Butler told CBS4 it's unclear if they can play in the spring. However, the league said it's committed to exploring meaningful opportunities and experiences for football student-athletes this academic year if this can be done reasonably and safely."
"The Presidents and Athletic Directors of our respective universities made this very difficult decision after extensive deliberations and consideration of many factors," Butler University President and Chir of the PFL James M. Danko said in a press release. "We recognize that our student-athletes will be disappointed, but our highest priority is the health and safety of all those involved in our athletic programs. Ultimately, the risks of proceeding are simply too high especially to ensure the safety of our students."
The Pioneer League is different from other conferences as the teams are scattered all over the country instead of being located in one part of the country. Another difference is the teams consist of players who are not awarded scholarships. The Pioneer League's decision comes after another FCS conference — the Ivy League — announcing all fall sports, including football, are canceled.
Butler, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, joined the Pioneer League in 1993 and have had their share of success over the years. The team has been co-conference champions four times, including the 2013 season, which led to them reaching the FCS playoffs. Butler started playing football in 1884 and has won a total of 556 games.
Butler and the rest of the teams in the PFL join the club of teams and leagues who are not playing football this year. This week NCAA Division II and Division III announced fall sports championships have been canceled. Also, the first Division I FBS school opted out as UConn decided to focus on the 2021 season. As for the FBS Power Five conferences, all the schools are playing, but each conference adjusted their schedules in order to reduce travel.