UNI Panthers

Missouri Valley Football Conference waiting on others before making 2020 season decision

Teams, including UNI, continue to look for FBS opponents

The North Dakota State Bison warm up for a game against Northern Iowa at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Oct. 6
The North Dakota State Bison warm up for a game against Northern Iowa at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. (The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — Upcoming decisions to be made by the NCAA Board of Governors and Power 5 conferences weigh heavily on the fate of 2020 Missouri Valley Conference Football.

Last week MVFC commissioner Patty Viverito sent an email indicating that the league would announce a decision sometime this week on the status of the 2020 season. However, at its much anticipated meeting last Friday, the NCAA Board of Governors elected to not make a decision on fall sports championships — which includes the FCS championship. Instead, they pushed the decision into August to allow for more time to evaluate COVID-19, effectively putting the FCS’ fate on hold and provoking the MVFC to release the following statement:

“The Missouri Valley Football Conference Presidents Council has determined patience is warranted regarding any decision to modify the 2020 fall season, seeing merit in delaying as long as there remains a possibility to provide a safe, competitive opportunity for MVFC student-athletes.

“The MVFC and its Presidents Council will continue to monitor national developments and, if necessary, will consider additional action as dictated by circumstances.”

Meanwhile, Missouri State athletics director Kyle Moats candidly told the Springfield News-Leader this week that the MVFC will not make its decision until the Power 5, FBS conferences make theirs.

Moats’ remarks make sense as the MVFC’s teams have worked hard to maintain and/or find new FBS nonconference opponents to keep the large payments that come with those games in what’s been a difficult year financially.

Northern Iowa, which lost its season-opener against Iowa when the Big Ten canceled nonconference games earlier this month, is one of a few MVFC teams still looking for a replacement FBS opponent.

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UNI coach Mark Farley told The Gazette recently that he and the administration are working hard to find a replacement for the Hawkeyes and a source tells The Gazette that UNI has recently had talks with Arkansas about a 2020 nonconference game.

While UNI, North Dakota State and others look for new FBS opponents, the Big 12’s decision on whether or not to stick with nonconference games weighs heavily on the MVFC. Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Western Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota all have nonconference games against Big 12 foes.

Ultimately, a decision by the Board of Governors in August to cancel fall sports championships will more than likely provoke the MVFC to cancel or postpone its season. However, if the Board of Governors doesn’t cancel, the financial windfall of the Big 12 playing a conference-only schedule could heavily influence its final decision.

l Comments: (319) 398-8252; nathan.ford@thegazette.com

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