Utah State football won’t play as Mountain West cancels fall sports

Gary Andersen speaks at a press conference where he was introduced as the new head football coach at Utah State, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/Herald Journal via AP)

Less than a week after Utah State found out it would get eight conference games and up to two non-conference games in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Mountain West Conference shifted gears again — drastically this time.

The Mountain West canceled all fall sports, including football, on Monday. The league in a news release called the postponement “indefinite.”

“We were hopeful we could carefully and responsibly conduct competition as originally scheduled with essential protocols in place,” MW Commissioner Craig Thompson said. “However, numerous external factors and unknowns outside our control made this difficult decision necessary.”

The decision puts a grinding halt to four additional fall sports at the university, including an Aggies season that was already cut short after just two days of practice when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Utah. The football team pushed back the restart of training camp to Aug. 24 in order to account for the augmented schedule.

The MW joined the Ivy League and the Mid-American Conference in canceling its fall sports. It is expected that more conferences will follow suit in the coming days.

The conference is also exploring the possibility rescheduling fall sports. One of those options is holding them in the spring. The conference said there are “ongoing discussions” in regards to winter sports.

USU athletic director John Hartwell expressed confidence last week that the football team would be able to play 10 games. He expressed disappointment on Monday but stressed the importance of health and safety.

“While we are disappointed about the postponement of our fall sports and the opportunities for our student-athletes to compete, the safety and well-being of those student-athletes has been, is and always will be our No. 1 priority,” Hartwell said. “This has been a stressful time for our student-athletes with all the uncertainties regarding their competitive seasons, and even though sports will not be played this fall, we will continue to provide the resources necessary for their mental health and well-being, and academic successes.”