The Mid-American Conference Council of Presidents announced Friday afternoon that they plan to resume the fall football season in early November.
WEMU's Lisa Barry has details.
Eastern Michigan University president Dr. James Smith said the decision by the MAC council of presidents reflects the university's overall concern for the health, safety, and well-being of student athletes. Eastern president of athletics Scott Wetherbee said he appreciates the chance for student-athletes to compete this fall. And EMU football coach Chris Creighton says they've been preparing to compete for a MAC championship since last December. EMU's six-game, conference-only schedule will be set in the near future.
EMU's six-game conference-only schedule will be set in the near future
CLEVELAND, Ohio (EMUEagles.com) -- The Mid-American Conference Council of Presidents, on the recommendation of the Medical Advisory Panel, today, Sept. 25, voted unanimously to resume the fall football season. A six-game conference-only schedule will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and the season will conclude on Dec. 18 or 19 with the MAC football championship game. A full schedule will be released at a later date.
"I am pleased to inform our student-athletes, coaches, and fans, that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season," said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher. "Our decisions, in August and again today, have been guided by an overriding concern for the well-being of the student-athletes, institutions, and the community at large. Our medical advisory group, presidents, directors of athletics, and others, have worked hard to develop a plan that provides the opportunity for student athletes to compete. We will be diligent in monitoring the dynamic health environment across the Conference footprint and the country."
The Conference will implement a COVID-19 testing program requiring four antigen tests per week with all positive tests needing confirmation with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Any student-athlete with a positive test will enter a cardiac screening protocol.
The MAC's approved COVID-19 testing protocols, including four tests per week, will begin Monday, Oct. 5. The complete set of protocols will be released next week.
"The Council of Presidents has been having fulsome discussions with our Mid-American Conference medical advisors," said Council of Presidents Chair and University at Buffalo president Dr. Satish Tripathi. "Throughout these discussions, we have underscored that the health and safety of our student-athletes, and our entire Mid-American Conference university community, is paramount. As a result, our Conference's medical advisors have established comprehensive protocols and procedures to safeguard our student-athletes during practice and competition. We appreciate the effort of the many medical professionals who have contributed to this sound plan to initiate the fall football season."
One of the primary changes that led to reconsideration was the availability of tests and timeliness of receiving test results across the Conference, in addition to the changes and improvements of testing protocols. The MAC is establishing criteria relative to contest interruptions/cancelations, monitoring and reporting of test results as well as other COVID-19 regulations consistent with the NCAA resocialization guidelines. All football return to play is subject to national, state and local health guidelines.
No general public attendance or tailgating will be allowed at games. The participation of marching band, dance, cheer and spirit squads at football games will be guided by Conference protocols at institutional discretion consistent with public health guidance.
"I am happy to recommend the return of Mid-American Conference Football." said Dr. Roger Kruse, MD/FAAFP/FACSM, Head Team Physician at the University of Toledo and chair of the Medical Advisory Group. "This was made possible by the ability to obtain rapid "point of care" testing. We will test four times a week to assure player safety. This protocol was unanimously approved by the MAC Medical Advisory Group and we feel confident of a safe return."
The Mid-American Conference suspended fall sports on Aug. 8. Football is the only sport being resumed with all others (soccer, cross country, volleyball) tentatively scheduled to return during the spring sports season when their respective NCAA Championships will occur.
In the sports of men's and women's basketball, the season will begin on the NCAA official start date of Nov. 25. Final competition schedules will be released for the winter sports at a later date.
MACtion is back!
Eastern Michigan University President James Smith Statement
The decision by the Mid-American Conference Council of Presidents reflects our overall concern for the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes. The Conference was among the first to say no to fall sports – and now we are among the last to say yes to the return, on a very limited basis, of fall football. I have been very cautious throughout our discussions with the Conference presidents, which have included extensive guidance from medical experts. A key factor throughout my considerations was the availability of effective and frequent testing. The plan for every football student-athlete to be tested every 48 hours provides a level of reassurance that we will be able to minimize, while not eliminating, the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The totality of the safety measures we have in place, exhibited extensively by our medical experts, coaching staff and student-athletes throughout the summer and now into the fall, will ensure the safest possible experience.
EMU Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee Statement
From the onset of the pandemic, our highest priority has been the health and the safety of our students. I appreciate the MAC's Council of Presidents giving our football student-athletes a chance to compete this fall. Our team and coaches have been very disciplined these last three months to prove that they are ready to compete. We still have hurdles to clear before kickoff, but I'm extremely grateful for the hard work of so many to create this path.
EMU Head Football Coach Chris Creighton Statement
I'm so fired up that the Mid-American Conference has developed a plan to allow our guys the opportunity to safely play the game they love. We've been preparing to compete for a MAC Championship since December 27. Our focus has been readiness for kickoff, whenever that day finally arrived. I'm very thankful that our players will have a chance to play a 2020 season.
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