Football is coming back to Bulldog Stadium in 2020.
After postponing fall sports indefinitely on August 10, the Mountain West Conference reversed course Thursday night and announced plans for an eight-game fall football season for its twelve member schools – including Fresno State.
The planned return to competition is “subject to state, county, and local approvals,” according to a Mountain West press release Friday morning.
“The health and well-being of our student-athletes continue to guide all decisions,” said Mary Papazian, Chair of the MW Board of Directors.
— Fresno State Football (@FresnoStateFB) September 25, 2020
A big factor guiding the decision to return to play amidst the COVID-19 pandemic was the availability of rapid antigen testing, which will be administered three times a week to players during the upcoming 2020 season. The test will be supplied by Quest Diagnostics, with the testing costs being covered entirely by the conference.
“This is a great opportunity to get our student-athletes back on the field of competition in a cautious and regulated fashion,” said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.
The plan approved by the Mountain West Board of Directors includes a start date of October 24, eight conference-only games for each Mountain West team, and a conference championship game set for December 19. Thompson clarified in a press conference Friday that teams will not be able to reschedule any games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak
Another factor complicated by the pandemic is stadium capacity at games. The Mountain West left the question of whether crowds can attend games for each member school to answer individually.
Fresno State gave their answer Friday, announcing no fans will be allowed at proposed games at Bulldog Stadium this fall. In an email from Fresno State Athletics, Athletics Director Terry Tumey cited California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s social distancing mandate and a priority of health and safety as reasons for the decision.
Fresno State is the only football team out of the twelve Mountain West schools to not hold an organized practice or workout since March. Now, they will begin gearing up for college football in 30 days.
No schedule has been released yet from the conference, but “will be forthcoming” soon, says the Mountain West press release.
With cautious optimism, Bulldog football is returning to Fresno this fall. Fresno State Football’s Twitter account said it best – “Here we go.”