SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – San Jose State University and other schools in the Mountain West Conference are slated to compete in a coronavirus-shortened college football season scheduled to begin in late October.
The league’s board of directors on Thursday approved resuming football competition with an eight-game schedule starting on Saturday, October 24th. A conference championship game is scheduled for December 19th.
The Mountain West’s decision was announced hours after the Pac-12 Conference approved a shortened seven-game college football schedule slated to begin in early November. Both conferences, along with the Big Ten, had postponed fall athletic competitions back in August amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mountain West officials said a major step in proceeding with the season was reaching an agreement with Quest Diagnostics to provide rapid results testing. All football student-athletes, along with coaches, training staff and other individuals on the field must undergo testing three times a week, the conference said.
SJSU President Dr. Mary Papazian, who is also chair of the conference’s Board of Directors, said, “The availability of rapid testing addresses one of the main concerns that was expressed by our Board, the MW Health and Safety Advisory Committee, as well as by student-athletes and coaches. Our student-athletes have voiced their desire to compete, and it is the Board’s shared opinion that football can be conducted with appropriate mitigation.”
Papazian went on to say, “We will be ready to change course if necessary should new information come forth, or we feel an appropriate environment cannot be sustained on our campuses.”
Conference officials said the return to competition and stadium capacities would be subject to state, county and local approvals.
Athletic Director Marie Tuite said approvals must be received by Santa Clara County and by the Chancellor of the California State University system.
SJSU Football Coach Brent Brennan said in a statement, “At San Jose State, we will continue working with our campus leaders and our county officers on the steps necessary for the Spartans to play in 2020.”
County officials issued a statement Friday afternoon, which read in part, “We and other public health experts have ongoing concerns about the transmission risks associated with intercollegiate contact sports, particularly in light of the many COVID-19 outbreaks that have occurred on college and university campuses and on various sports teams.”
“We are currently waiting for the State to release its revised guidance. We will review the new state guidance and proposed university protocols, make local decisions focused on the safety of the entire community, and continue to apply consistent requirements across industries, sectors, and institutions,” the statement went on to say.
As for fans at CEFCU Stadium, it appears unlikely as the county’s current limits on all outdoor gatherings is 60 people, regardless if the space is big enough to hold more than 60 with proper social distancing. The Pac-12 has already stated that no fans would be allowed at their college football games this season, meaning empty seats at Stanford Stadium and at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.
Mountain West officials said a football schedule will be forthcoming.