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Big Sky conference, home to Northern Arizona, postpones fall sports

Head coach Chris Ball of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks watches from the sidelines during the first half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 07, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Big Sky Conference, which is home to Northern Arizona University, announced Thursday that it is postponing all fall sports until 2021.

The decision follows other conferences’ moves to do the same and is in light of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference’s presidents’ council met on Wednesday “to affirm this recommendation from its members’ athletic directors.”

A press release from the Big Sky said the decision affects all sports that compete in the fall for their championship season and for the non-championship segment of their season. That means that men’s and women’s cross country, soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, softball and men’s and women’s tennis are affected. The conference already decided on Aug. 6 to postpone football until the spring.

Non-conference contests aren’t allowed for fall sports, including football.

“While I am confident that our conference is making the right decision for the health and safety of our student-athletes, it breaks my heart knowing how disappointing this will be to all of them who were eagerly anticipating the opportunity to compete this fall,” Big Sky commissioner Tom Wistrcill said in a press release. “Our efforts in the conference office now will focus on doing everything within our power to make their spring season the best that it possibly can be, which includes advocating for their NCAA championships to be held then.”

Similarly, the Western Athletic Conference — which is home to Grand Canyon University athletics — postponed fall sports in an announcement on Thursday. The Pac-12 decided on Tuesday to do the same, with hope to play football in the spring, instead.

Besides NAU, Big Sky member schools include Cal Poly, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State, Southern Utah, UC Davis and Weber State.