MAC Becomes First Big College Football League to Cut Season

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The Mid-American Conference announced on Saturday it will cancel its fall season over Covid-19 concerns, making it the first league competing at college football’s highest level to make such a decision.

The conference intends to “provide competitive opportunities for the student-athletes” during the spring semester of 2021 and has begun formalizing the spring plan under consultation with medical experts. At this time, it has made no decisions regarding winter sports.

“The Council of Presidents unanimously voted to take this action with the health and safety of its student-athletes, coaches and communities as its top priority,” according to its statementposted on Twitter. The affected fall sports include football, field hockey, soccer and more.

MAC schools depend on revenue from football playing games against more powerful teams outside the conference. Since most of those games have been canceled already and with their larger opponents saying the pandemic triggers force majeure clauses, it was going to be too expensive to juggle protecting student athletes from the coronavirus. Some smaller schools have threatened to sue the bigger schools for the revenue lost by canceling the games.

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Colleges have beenscrambling to figure out how many fans, if any, can experience the NCAA football in person this season. Picking who can come to a game is a no-win situation for the schools. If they select students, it may cost them millions of dollars in revenue from season ticket holders that pay full price. Side with big-ticket donors and students could claim that they’re being denied an experience that’s considered a rite of passage at many schools.

The MAC’s decision comes ahead of a meeting of Big Ten presidents Saturday where it’s expected they’ll discuss moving their season to the spring, according toYahoo Sports. The conference, home to national powers like Ohio State and Penn State,announced Saturday that it was delaying the start of full contact practices on the advice of its medical counsel.

“We understand there are many questions regarding how this impacts schedules, as well as the feasibility of proceeding forward with the season at all,” said the statement. “As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes.”

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