#MACtion is back.
More than a more after announcing it was delaying its football season until spring due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Mid-American Conference has voted to return this fall. The MAC's new six-game schedule will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 4.
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“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.”
In announcing its return, the league said that it has implemented a COVID-19 testing program that will require four antigen tests per week. All positive tests will need confirmation with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and any student-athlete with a positive test will enter a cardiac screening protocol.
The testing protocols will begin on Monday, Oct. 5.
“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.”
In reversing course, the MAC becomes the second midwestern football conference to do so in the past month. Last week, the Big Ten's university presidents and chancellors voted in favor of playing an eight-game regular season (with a ninth game for each team to be played during "championship week"), after initially voting to delay its 2020 campaign until next year days after the MAC did the same.
The Big Ten's new season is scheduled to begin the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
The MAC's return for the fall comes amid a college football season unlike any other in the sport's history. Due to the pandemic, leagues that opted to move forward with their fall seasons largely opted to scrap their previous schedules in favor of conference-only slates.
As of this coming weekend, only three of the country's Power Five conferences will be playing with the Big Ten set to begin action next month and the Pac 12 now returning in November.