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MAC reverses decision on fall football, will play six-game season


Central Michigan running back Jonathan Ward runs the ball near the goal line against North Illinois Nov. 2 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

The Mid-American Conference announced today that its presidents have voted to play an abbreviated fall football season. Each team will play a six-game schedule beginning on Nov. 4. 

The six-game schedule will be played over the course of eight weeks, leading up to the MAC championship game. The conference title game will be played on Dec. 18 or 19 at Ford Field in Detroit, according to a statement from the conference. 

“I am pleased to inform our student athletes, coaches and fans that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season,” Steinbrecher said in a statement. “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. 

The conference will enforce strict protocols throughout the season. Each team will be required to test its student-athletes four times a week. Testing for MAC football players will begin on Oct. 5. 

Each positive test will require confirmation with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Any player with a positive test will enter cardiac screening protocol, according to the statement. 

"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," Steinbrecher said. "We will be diligent in monitoring the dynamic health environment across the Conference footprint and the country.”

There will be no fans in attendance during the season. No tailgating will be permitted, either. 

Marching bands, dance, cheer and spirit squads will be guided by conference protocols and public health guidance. 

On Aug. 8, the MAC became the first Football Bowl Subdivision conference to cancel all fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher called it a “miserable decision” and began to lay plans for fall sports to play in the spring.  

The MAC’s initial decision to cancel fall sports was followed by the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West electing to do the same. However, after the remaining FBS conferences proved that playing amidst the pandemic, the Big Ten reversed its decision. On Sept. 24, the Pac-12 and Mountain West elected to do the same. 

Just over one month later, Steinbrecher and the MAC became the last conference to reverse its decision and play college football.

Football will be the only fall sport played in 2020 within the MAC. For Central Michigan, its women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball as well as men’s and women’s cross country teams are tentatively slated to start in the spring.