(WTVO/WQRF) — The Northern Illinois University football team won’t be taking the field at all this fall, and stadiums all around the Mid-American Conference will be silent. MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher announced Saturday that the conference is postpone all fall sports competitions for 2020.
The postponement affects the 2020 fall seasons for football, volleyball, women’s cross country and men’s and women’s soccer programs, as well as the non-championship segments of the men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis competitions scheduled for this fall.
The decision was made by the MAC Council of Presidents.
“There are simply too many unknowns to put our student athletes in these situations,” said Steinbrecher. “This is simply a miserable decision.”
The conference will attempt to provide opportunities for student-athletes to compete this spring if health and safety concerns can be alleviated.
Though all intercollegiate competitions are cancelled, NIU teams will be able to practice and workout in accordance with NCAA regulations while following state, local and university safety protocols. Rigorous testing procedures remain in place as the Huskies prepare to welcome additional student-athletes back to campus as they continue to pursue their academic degrees through virtual or in-person classes.
NIU officials were in full support of the MAC’s decision to postpone fall sports and work toward providing opportunities in the spring based on guidance from the university’s team of medical professionals and after receiving feedback from Huskie student-athletes and coaches.
“This is a hard day and a hard decision, but I am convinced it is the right decision made for the right reasons – to ensure the health and well-being of student-athletes, staff, workers and fans,” Athletic Director Sean T. Frazier said. “We have heard concerns from our student-athletes and we have listened, we have relied on the expertise of our medical staff and doctors, and we can all see that the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Based on the data we have available and the science, I firmly believe postponing these seasons gives us the best chance to play at some point this year.”
NIU President Lisa Freeman echoed Frazier’s sentiments and said while NIU is confident in its “Protect the Pack” strategies and eager to welcome students and faculty back to campus later this month, athletic competition poses an unacceptable level of risk at this time.
“I applaud the Mid-American Conference for taking this stance,” said Freeman. “While we all want college athletics to return, prioritizing the health and well-being of everyone involved is the right thing to do. We will continue to rely on medical and public health experts to guide the decision-making process moving forward.”
Following Saturday’s announcement, NIU athletics personnel will continue to work with conference and university leadership to formulate plans for future competitions. Details will be announced as they are finalized.