Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


W hen the NCAA Board of Governors meets Tuesday, the future of fall sports will be at stake. The board will review NCAA fall sports championships, which includes the FCS playoffs, as the coronavirus pandemic puts the season in peril.

The board met on July 24 and considered three options for fall championships: conduct them in the fall with potentially a reduced number of competitors, move them to the spring or flat-out cancel them.

Ultimately the board decided to push its decision back to Tuesday’s meeting.

That has left the Big Sky Conference waiting, since a decision from the NCAA could dictate what the Big Sky does.

Officials from throughout the Big Sky previously said a decision on fall sports would be made by the end of July. On Thursday, however, the conference’s president’s council met and postponed any announcements.

“The Council decided to reconvene after the NCAA Board of Governors meets again next week,” the Big Sky Conference wrote in a statement. “In the meantime, school administrators continue to monitor closely the situations near their campuses, the national landscape and decisions by other conferences.”

The Board of Governors includes 25 members. The only three representatives from FCS schools are Pennsylvania athletic director M. Grace Calhoun, Morgan State president David Wilson and Bryant president Ronald Machtley. Those three schools are all part of conferences that have suspended fall sports: the Ivy League, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Northeast Conference, respectively.

The rest of the board includes eight representatives from FBS schools as well as presidents, chancellors and conference commissioners from Division I, II and III schools. There are six independent members, including NCAA president Mark Emmert, former surgeon general of the United States Vivek Murthy, former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and former NBA player Grant Hill.

Six of the 13 FCS conferences have already suspended fall sports. Last week, several FBS conferences moved to conference-only schedules. The FBS, however, flows into the College Football Playoff and bowl system, which isn’t governed by the NCAA.

According to HERO Sports, FBS schools are advocating for fall sports championships to continue. Even though the NCAA doesn’t oversee their football championship, they want to avoid a situation where football is the only sport played at their school.

While uncertainty lingers, Montana State is preparing to begin preseason practices Friday. Last week, after MSU had its second nonconference game canceled because of other conference’s decisions, athletic director Leon Costello said the Bobcats are looking to replace the missing games on their schedule.

“This rollercoaster we’ve been on right now has been really difficult for (players),” Bobcats head coach Jeff Choate said July 23. “So I think that’s one thing I hope administrators understand when they’re making decisions is, we’ve just got to quit zig-zagging. … We need to stick to a plan.”

MSU has yet to announce if there would be changes in terms of attendance at home games. The Bobcats’ first game on the schedule as of now is set for Sept. 19 against Dixie State, their only nonconference contest left.

“We’re in discussions with other schools in the same situation to fill our schedule,” Costello said in a press release. “Every conference and institution is working through this process. We’re exploring all of our options.”

In March, when the NCAA shut down spring championships in one fell swoop, all sports and conferences followed. Albeit unlikely, there remains a possibility that if the NCAA cancels or postpones fall championships, the Big Sky as a conference or Montana State as an individual school could still play. But that would mean playing independent of the governing body and without a postseason.

Costello has said repeatedly he wants MSU to have something to play for, like a conference and national title, and that would be a factor in the school’s decision on when the football season may take place.

So Tuesday’s decision from the NCAA could push the Bobcats in a certain direction.

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at pschwedelson@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.