UNI Panthers

FCS college football season inching closer toward postponement to spring

Big Sky called off fall football Thursday

Northern Iowa Panthers running back Tyler Hoosman (32) runs into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown during the second
Northern Iowa Panthers running back Tyler Hoosman (32) runs into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown during the second quarter of a game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — The reality of NCAA Division I FCS playing its season in the spring grew considerably Thursday.

The Big Sky, one of the subdivision’s preeminent conferences, voted to opt out of its fall football season, according to multiple reports. Reports on Thursday also indicate that the Pioneer League, of which Drake is a member, is opting out of fall football, too.

Those developments — along with the NCAA Board of Governors mandating at its meeting this week that 50 percent of the subdivision’s teams must participate in a fall season to greenlight playing for a championship — have likely sunk a fall FCS season.

Of the subdivision’s 111 teams, only 47 potentially remain as possible participants this fall. Do the quick math and the FCS playoffs and championship are 8 percent short (42 percent) of the Board of Governors’ threshold.

While the Missouri Valley Football Conference — which includes Northern Iowa — could still elect to play a fall season that wouldn’t include playoffs and a championship game, the FCS’ conferences appear to be headed toward a spring season.

A source tells The Gazette that there’s still a likelihood for FCS teams to play their nonconference buy games against FBS opponents this fall to retain critical revenue.

However, a traditional season that could include playoffs and a championship seems to be spring or bust.

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On Thursday, the MVFC indefinitely postponed its media day, scheduled for Monday. So, while the conference has held off on making a decision for this fall, an announcement on the fate of playing this fall is likely to come sometime soon.

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