Ohio Athletic Conference to have conference-only competition for football in 2020
Mount Union’s 2020 college football regular season will consist of nine games at the most.
The Ohio Athletic Conference announced Thursday that competition in football, soccer and volleyball will be league only this fall. Cross country, golf and tennis will be permitted outside competition.
The start of the fall season in all sports will be delayed until Sept. 19 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is of utmost concern as well as the campuses and communities they are in,” OAC Commissioner Tim Gleason said in a statement. “We believe we have reached a great balance of health and safety while at the same time providing a vibrant sports schedule for the student-athletes.”
The Mount Union football team was scheduled to play its season opener Sept. 5 at home against Westminster, a nonconference opponent. The season opener is now set for Sept. 19 at Baldwin Wallace.
"Our ultimate goal is to prepare to win our conference championship and then have an opportunity in the playoffs," first-year head coach Geoff Dartt said. "We're still afforded that opportunity. That's what we're planning to do."
With 10 teams in the OAC, football will lose just one regular-season game. The Purple Raiders normally play a nonconference opponent in their opener and have a bye week before starting the conference season.
The date when Dartt's players can return to campus and begin preseason workouts is still to be determined. The OAC has adopted the NCAA’s three-phase resocialization plan on campuses. The first two phases will last 14 days apiece. The third phase will have varying days per sport.
"As far as guidelines and exact dates, we're still collecting that information," Dartt said. "When we get it, we'll put a plan together and execute that plan."
The Mount Union men’s soccer team was set to begin play Sept. 1 with the first of its eight nonconference matches, all scheduled for September. The women’s soccer team also had all eight of its nonconference matches in September, and the opener was Sept. 5.
Women’s volleyball at Mount Union was set to begin Sept. 4 with its own invitational before 10 other nonleague matches in September. The volleyball schedule beyond Sept. 19 is expected to be revised to include additional conference games. Teams must play a minimum of 11 regular-season matches to be eligible for NCAA championship competition.
"To that end, the OAC is preparing schedules that maximize participation opportunities that lead to conference championships and subsequent NCAA participation," the OAC said in a statement.
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