The Mountain West became the second FBS conference to put its football season on hold, postponing all fall sports with hopes to play in the spring, “in response to ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus,” the conference announced Monday.
The decision came less than a week after an announcement that outlined a plan to play eight conference football games and two nonconference games.
Now the 12-team Mountain West, which includes Utah State, joins the Mid-American Conference as the second league in FBS to bail on the fall season.
“While we are disappointed about the postponement of our fall sports and the opportunities for our student-athletes to compete, the safety and well-being of those student-athletes has been, is and always will be our No. 1 priority,” Utah State athletic director John Hartwell said in a statement from the school. “This has been a stressful time for our student-athletes with all the uncertainties regarding their competitive seasons, and even though sports will not be played this fall, we will continue to provide the resources necessary for their mental health and well-being, and academic successes.”
Air Force, an MWC member, released a statement that it intends to play football games against fellow service academies Army and Navy. Navy is scheduled to open its season on Labor Day against BYU, which loses another chunk of its schedule with the MWC’s announcement.
Meanwhile, ESPN reports that presidents from the Pac-12 Conference are scheduled to meet Tuesday to revisit football and fall sports. Leadership of the Pac-12 and other Power Five conferences grow increasingly concerned with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart typically found after a virus, ESPN reported Monday. Early returns show myocarditis has been found at a higher frequency among those infected by the coronavirus than usual rates for other viruses.
Severe myocarditis can cause long-term damage or heart failure, according to Harvard Medical School.
A recent German study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that, of 100 patients who recovered from COVID-19 — two-thirds of which had mild or no symptoms — 78% had cardiac abnormalities and 60% had inflammation consistent with myocarditis, independent of pre-existing conditions.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is missing the 2020 season due to myocarditis after COVID-19 infection. ESPN reports at least five athletes in the Big Ten Conference have myocarditis after recovering from COVID-19, among “several other” athletes in other college conferences.
In the Big Sky, Eastern Washington announced Monday it has suspended all fall sports activities. The Big Sky presidents council postponed football Friday but has yet to vote on the continuation of other fall sports.