MAC decides to cancel all fall sports

  • Northern Illinois head coach Thomas Hammock walks the sidelines during the first half against Nebraska in Lincoln.

    Northern Illinois head coach Thomas Hammock walks the sidelines during the first half against Nebraska in Lincoln. Associated Press/Sept. 14, 2019

Updated 8/8/2020 11:17 AM

The Mid-American Conference, which includes Northern Illinois, has decided to cancel its fall football season. The league released a statement stating its Council of Presidents voted unanimously to postpone all fall sports.

The MAC becomes the first FBS conference to shut down the fall season. Already, NCAA Division 2, Division 3 and the major FCS leagues have pushed football to the spring.


The Missouri Valley Conference, which includes Illinois State, Western Illinois and Southern Illinois, announced Friday it would push its conference season to the spring, but schools can play nonconference games in the fall if they want.

For the MAC, the obvious problems are health concerns for the athletes and coaches during the COVID-19 crisis.

Schools are facing the expense of testing athletes for the disease, while a major revenue stream was shut down when the Big Ten and other Power Five conferences decided to cancel nonconference games.

Northern Illinois, for example, was slated to play games at Maryland and Iowa this fall.

"This is a hard day and a hard decision, but I am convinced it is the right decision made for the right reasons -- to ensure the health and well-being of student-athletes, staff, workers and fans," NIU athletic director Sean Frazier said in a statement. "We have heard concerns from our student-athletes and we have listened. We have relied on the expertise of our medical staff and doctors, and we can all see that the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. Based on the data we have available and the science, I firmly believe postponing these seasons gives us the best chance to play at some point this year."

It is not clear if the MAC will try to play its football season in the spring.

Check back later for more on this breaking news story.

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