The SEC kicked off a COVID-19-altered season on Saturday with teams such as the Florida Gators and LSU Tigers taking part in games. The Mountain West Conference will soon follow suit. The conference announced on Friday that the season would soon start and that the teams would play shortened seasons.
According to an announcement on Twitter, the Mountain West teams will play an eight-game conference schedule. The action starts on Oct. 24 and the conference championship game will take place on Dec. 19. Additionally, the conference will cover the testing costs for all of the schools, which will be in the millions of dollars range. Players, coaches and other on-field personnel will be tested three times a week.
WE'RE BACK. pic.twitter.com/kZTEGDJXPz— Mountain West (@MountainWest) September 25, 2020
"The health and well-being of our student-athletes continue to guide all of our decisions," said Dr. Mary Papazian, San Jose State University President and Chair of the MW Board of Directors, per a press release. "The availability of rapid testing addresses one of the main concerns expressed by our Board, the MW Health and Safety Advisory Committee, as well as by student-athletes and coaches. After reviewing the health and safety protocols presented by our Health and Safety Advisory Committee, the Board agreed that football could be conducted with appropriate mitigation.
"We continue to learn more about the virus each day, and we will continue to monitor the pandemic moving forward," Dr. Papzian continued. "We will be ready [to] change course if necessary should new information come forth or should we feel an appropriate environment cannot be sustained on our campuses."
With the news of the return official, several fans weighed in and expressed excitement about the shortened schedule. Although many others did also acknowledge the potential health concerns. "As long as you keep the student-athletes safe. Would look real bad to put unpaid player at risk just for profits," one person tweeted in response to the news.
According to the press release, the schedule will become available in the near future. Fans may also be able to attend the games and watch their favorite teams in action. However, the Mountain West will determine stadium capacities while remaining in accordance with state, county and local health ordinances.
News of the Mountain West return follows a similar announcement by the PAC-12. The conferences CEO Group unanimously voted to play football this year. The schools will take part in a shortened, seven-game schedule leading up to the Dec. 18 conference championship game. The season will officially start on Nov. 6.