Indiana State has postponed its football season out of concern for safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic and after consulting with the student-athletes, the school announced Friday night.
It is still possible ISU will play football in the spring.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference was one of the later leagues in Football Championship Subdivision to make the decision, but with other conferences already opting out of a fall season the playoffs were in jeopardy anyway.
“This is a decision we had to make, especially after hearing from our student-athletes,” ISU President Deborah J. Curtis said. “We had two non-conference games that would have been beneficial financially. But now and always, our primary concern is the health and safety of the student-athletes.”
The Missouri Valley Football Conference on Friday night announced that the league’s President’s Council voted to postpone the conference season but allow up to three non-conference games in the fall. The league left open the possibility of a spring season culminating in an NCAA championship.
“We all want college football as usual, and that will happen eventually,” said Sherard Clinkscales, ISU Director of Athletics. “But this isn’t the time, regardless of money. Our priority is the health of our student-athletes. They’ve expressed themselves and we’ve been vigilant in monitoring the situation.”
“I am heartbroken for our football team right now, but postponing the fall season was the right decision," said head coach Curt Mallory. "The safety and wellbeing of our student-athletes is and always will be our top priority. We will now work toward a possible spring football season and championship."
The Sycamores suspended football practice and conditioning earlier this week for 14 days after six players tested positive for COVID-19. The players are quarantined, as well as people with whom they have been in close contact.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference also announced Friday that its schools will not conduct conference competition in the fall.
The MVFC is expected to play a full eight-game spring league schedule with the expectation to culminate the season with the FCS Playoffs.
“Without question the most important part of our decision-making process was listening to our student-athletes and hearing their feelings,” stated Jim Tressel, chair of the MVFC Presidents Council and president at Youngstown State. “What we clearly heard was that they want to play this year for a chance to participate in the FCS Playoffs. It's great to know that they believe we are taking all the steps necessary to keep them safe in the process. All 11 MVFC teams weighed in with their positions on the options we considered, and all thoughts and concerns guided our thinking.”
Northern Iowa's Xavior Williams, an all-conference defensive back, announced Friday on Twitter that he is transferring due to MVFC playing in the spring. Other MVFC schools have also had COVID-19 cases and been forced to quarantine.