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Mountain West officially announces return to fall football

The Mountain West is back. On Thursday night, the same night as the Pac-12 announcing their intentions to bring football back in the fall during November, the Mountain West became the latest conference to announce their return to football.

Starting October 24th, the Mountain West returns to football. That same weekend, the Big Ten will also return this fall, giving college football fans a much bigger slate of Division I football by the end of that month.

The conference, which will play an eight game schedule with the championship game being held on December 19th, kept it simple with their announcement.

“WE’RE BACK,” the Mountain West tweeted.

The league includes three schools — Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State — that are located in California, where teams are not allowed to participate in organized contact practices or games yet. That’s a significant hurdle, and it’s unclear if it could be overcome. Still, it would be difficult for the conference to be left behind, particularly with the American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt and Conference USA all playing.

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson issued a statement on last week regarding the league’s possible return to play in 2020.

“Multiple subgroups within the Conference are working daily on solutions to the existing challenges in order to facilitate a return to play for Mountain West football, and other Conference sport programs, at the earliest possible opportunity,” Thompson’s statement read. “This includes finalizing a plan for frequent, rapid response testing and continuing to monitor the status of public health directives in our MW states and communities.”

The Mountain West stated that its decision to postpone was made “in response to the ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus in conjunction with athletic competition.” Since then, however, more effective rapid testing options have emerged.

The fall sports affected by the decision include football, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. The league also previously announced that all fall competition in the sports of men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, softball and baseball was canceled.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our membership and staff have been working diligently to prepare for a fall sports season,” Thompson said in a statement when the Mountain West decided to postpone its football season. “We were hopeful we could carefully and responsibly conduct competition as originally scheduled with essential protocols in place. However, numerous external factors and unknowns outside our control made this difficult decision necessary. I fully understand the impact of this outcome on our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff who work so hard daily to play the sports we all love, and I share in their disappointment. We will continue to navigate this pandemic together, overcome the obstacles, and return to intercollegiate athletics at the earliest opportunity.”

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