(PRESS RELEASE/Eastern Washington University)
Big Sky Conference announces plans to move to eight-game spring schedule with fall non-conference games pending further review…
In the latest decision in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Big Sky Conference announced Friday (Aug. 7) that all league schools – including Eastern Washington University — will move to an eight-game schedule in early 2021. Presumably, the schedule could start as early as February.
The league’s athletic directors reached that decision on Wednesday, and it was approved by the Big Sky’s Presidents’ Council on Thursday.
Non-conference play for the conference’s football programs is still pending further review. Eastern has home non-conference games scheduled on Sept. 12 versus Western Illinois and Sept. 19 against Northern Arizona, and will be working with those schools to re-schedule as a result of the Big Sky’s decision.
The Big Sky’s move also all but means that the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision will not have its playoffs in the fall, but could potentially move them to the spring. Earlier this week, the NCAA announced that if “50 percent or more of eligible teams in a particular sport in a division cancel their fall season, there will be no fall NCAA championship in that sport in that division.”
Furthermore, the NCAA said that “if fall sports championships are postponed in any division, a decision to conduct that championship at a later date will be based upon the scientific data available at that time regarding Covid-19, along with other considerations.”
In its news release, the Big Sky said it has begun exploring modified versions of a conference football schedule to be played in the spring and fully supports the NCAA shifting the FCS championship to the spring.
The 2020 schedule was going to be Eastern’s best in school history, featuring home games versus Montana, Montana State, Idaho and two-time defending Big Sky Conference champion Weber State. There is no indication as of yet whether or not the fall schedule will carry over to the spring, or if a more regionalized schedule will be utilized.
The Eagles were scheduled to open Big Sky Conference play at Southern Utah on Sept. 26, followed by its conference home opener versus Montana on Oct. 3.
Once the fall and spring schedules are determined, Eastern football season ticket holders will be contacted with their options. The university expects to refund/reduce the price fans paid if the number of home games is reduced. For information and a list of frequently asked questions, fans can go to http://goeags.com/FBSpring21.
Previously, Eastern’s game at the University of Florida was canceled July 30 as the result of the Southeastern Conference electing to not play non-conference games.
In addition, the league announced in July that the start of other sports will be delayed until Sept. 18 (Sept. 14 for women’s golf). The possibility of canceling or postponing those sports will be discussed at a later date. Eastern competes in the fall in women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country, plus golf and tennis typically schedule events as well.