CASPER — More than a month after what he described as a “strong, strong consensus” among Mountain West presidents to postpone football and other fall sports indefinitely, University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel said the school is trying to resume competition in those sports sooner rather than later.
“It was terribly disappointing for all of us — especially those players and coaches, but also our amazing fans — that a postponement of the fall season was determined to be necessary,” Seidel said in a statement Thursday. “Our athletics director, Tom Burman, and our department of athletics are working hard with their colleagues to bring the postponement to an end for the Cowboys and Cowgirls. We’re not able to announce anything right now, but be assured that we’re doing everything we can to make it happen.”
Seidel’s comments come a day after the Big Ten backtracked on its decision to cancel fall football by announcing it will play a season starting the weekend of Oct. 23.
The Pac-12, another league that’s postponed for now, had state public health orders eased for its member schools in California and Oregon on Wednesday that will allow those teams to hold contact practices, so the league is also reportedly exploring the possibility of playing at some point this fall.
As for the Mountain West, commissioner Craig Thompson said Wednesday the league is “working daily” to develop a safe return-to-play plan for football and other fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Wednesday night, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reported the league is “aggressively exploring” options to play an eight-game season this fall, which would make the conference eligible for a New Year’s Six bowl game.
The primary catalyst for the change of heart? The development of more rapid response testing of student-athletes, which could quickly detect a COVID-19 case and prevent a team-wide outbreak.
The Pac-12 has announced a partnership with the Quidel Corporation to provide daily antigen testing beginning at the end of the month. The American Athletic Conference — one of six Football Bowl Subdivision conferences that didn’t postpone its football season — is partnering with Virtual Care for Families for antigen testing to be administered the day before games that can yield results in 15 minutes.
As part of their reasoning to vote to resume football this fall, Big Ten presidents and chancellors cited “significant medical protocols,” including daily antigen testing and enhanced cardiac screening for their athletes.
Though a Mountain West spokesman told the Star-Tribune the league is still in discussions with potential testing partners, Thompson said the league’s return-to-play plan includes finalizing a rapid response testing system.
While addressing the UW Board of Trustees during its meeting Thursday, Burman said those testing opportunities could be coming to the conference’s member schools in the coming weeks.
“Due to recent advances in COVID-19 testing technology, and in light of the decision by the Big Ten Conference to return to competition in October, I am hopeful that we will find a safe path forward to get our athletics program back in business,” Seidel said.