The Mid-American Conference announced Thursday that it will postpone the start of fall Olympic sports until Sept. 3. The decision affects field hockey, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross country.
The decision aligns those sports with the start of football. MAC schools play their first scheduled football games Sept. 3. All fall sports now will begin that day.
Northern Illinois is scheduled to open its football season against Rhode Island on Sept. 5 at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb. NIU fields all the affected sports except for field hockey and men’s cross country.
“Today’s announcement by the Mid-American Conference to push back the start of all 2020 fall sports seasons until [Sept. 3] provides us with additional time to determine the best – and safest – course of action going forward,” NIU President Lisa Freeman and athletic director Sean Frazier said in a joint statement.
The decision applies to exhibition and nonconference games. Rescheduling of nonconference contests affected by the postponement will be determined by each individual school.
The MAC and its member institutions will continue to assess the latest developments related to COVID-19 in weighing the potential affect on fall schedules, according to a statement from the conference.
“As we continue to evaluate and monitor the impact of COVID-19 on college athletics, our first consideration has been and will continue to be the health and safety of Northern Illinois University student-athletes, coaches, staff and all who may be affected,” Freeman and Frazier said in their joint statement.