The Mid-American Conference made a big decision, which led to other conferences making the same move. Over the weekend, the MAC decided to call off fall sports, including football, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It's possible all fall sports could return at the start of the spring semester of 2021.
"The decision is grounded in the core values of the Conference that prioritize student-athlete well-being, an area the MAC has traditionally taken a leadership role," MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement. "Clearly, we are charting a conservative path – and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group. It is a decision that affects roughly 2,500 student-athletes who live for the moment to compete." Steinbrecher went on to say he is "heartbroken" the conference is in this situation. He then added he wants to "give assurance to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans that we have their best interest at heart, and we will make every effort to provide competitive opportunities in the spring."
The MAC said it has started with plans to move all the fall sports — football, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, field hockey and women's volleyball - to the spring, if possible. The decision to call postpone fall sports led to the Big Ten and the Pac-12 to make the same decision in the following days.
"The realist in me just said, 'Wow, this is not going to happen,'" Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier said to ESPN when asked about the idea of putting football players in a bubble. "We need more time for data collection. We need more time to see how this all pans out. I cannot put my kids in harm's way. If I wouldn't have my own kid play this sport, or if I have a doctor tell me that he wouldn't have his kid, play, how I can put someone else's kid out there?"
There are 12 schools in the MAC including Akron, Buffalo, Kent State and Central Michigan. Jim McElwain, the head football coach for Central Michigan, went to Twitter and wrote: "While we are disappointed to not be playing this fall, we respect the decision made by the MAC today. Our main priority is ensuring the safety of our players, staff, their families and loved ones. This is a difficult time, but we will get through it, and we’ll do it together."