WAC and Big Sky cancel fall sports, affecting Utah Valley, Weber State, Dixie State and Southern Utah programs

(Rick Bowmer | AP) The campus of Utah Valley University in Orem, Nov. 14, 2019.

On Thursday morning, the Western Athletic and Big Sky conferences became the latest league to cancel fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic — directly impacting the Utah Valley, Weber State, Dixie State and Southern Utah athletic programs.

The WAC’s decision, made by the Board of Directors, suspends all fall championship and non-championship athletics competitions through the end of the calendar year, affecting men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer.

It also affects the non-conference schedule portion for men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf, baseball and softball.

Men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s swimming and diving competition will be postponed through the end of October. The board will then evaluate how to best handle the winter athletics competition.

“It obviously was a difficult decision, and not one made lightly,” WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd said. “But it was one made after extensive discussion and consideration of all relevant factors as well as input from conference administrators and the Medical Advisory Committee. The health and safety of our student-athletes, the many others associated with our athletics programs and all those in our campus environments always will be the highest priority.”

Dixie State was set to make its inaugural season in the WAC, after beginning its transition to NCAA Division I status and joining the league as its eighth full member on July 1. The Trailblazers compete in all, but one WAC sports (indoor track and field).

Utah Valley is one of the veteran members of the WAC, having joined in 2013 alongside three other programs. The Wolverines compete in eight WAC sports.

Last school year, Utah Valley won conference titles in men's cross country and men's outdoor track and field.

“Our student-athletes, coaches and staff have been preparing to compete,” Utah Valley Director of Athletics Jared Sumsion said in a statement. “While we are disappointed in this announcement, we understand the magnitude of the situation and the need for caution. We trust in the guidance and leadership from the WAC’s medical advisory committee and the University Presidents. Our focus will continue to be on the academic success and the health and safety of our student-athletes as we look forward to competing as soon as possible.”

The Big Sky had previously postponed football conference competition until the spring, leaving the door open for Weber, Southern Utah and other members to still play non-conference opponents this fall, but that door has now been shut.

This decision also has an immediate impact on Weber and Southern Utah’s non-revenue men’s and women’s athletic teams, including the soccer and volleyball programs.

“I could be frustrated and disappointed about the fall season being cancelled, but I am grateful and hopeful from the short time I got to spend with my players and coaches,” SUU football coach Demario Warren said. “We have a great group that will continue to work and find ways to improve ourselves academically, athletically, and personally. Time doesn’t stop for anyone and we need to cherish the time we do have.”