Ohio University’s football season will soon kick off after the Mid-American Conference Council of Presidents, on the recommendation of the Medical Advisory Panel, on Friday, Sept. 25 voted unanimously to resume the season.
A six-game conference-only schedule will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and the season will conclude on Dec. 18 or 19 with the MAC Football Championship game. A full schedule will be released at a later date, an Ohio University press release stated. No general public attendance or tailgating will be allowed at games. The participation of Marching Band, Dance, Cheer and Spirit Squads at football games will be guided by Conference protocols at institutional discretion consistent with public health guidance.
“Ohio University has worked diligently to safely open campus to more students in phase 2 this fall,” President M. Duane Nellis said in the news release. “With today’s decision by MAC Presidents to begin our football season later this fall, the University will take all necessary precautions to ensure our student athletes are complying with CDC and state guidelines to ensure their health and safety.”
The Mid-American Conference suspended fall sports on Aug. 8. Football is the only sport being resumed with all others (M/W Soccer, M/W Cross Country, Field Hockey, Volleyball) tentatively scheduled to return during the spring sports season when their respective NCAA Championships will occur, the university release stated.
“Our players are excited about the opportunity to play once more,” said OU head coach Frank Solich. “We know there are challenges ahead, but we hope to try to meet those challenges. We’re ready to forge ahead with a positive attitude and make the best of the situation at hand. A lot of people have worked very hard at getting us to this point while keeping the safety of the players a top priority. Our players have always embraced challenges and made the best of the opportunities presented to them.”
The Conference will implement a COVID-19 testing program requiring four antigen tests per week with all positive tests needing confirmation with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, according to the university release. Any student athlete with a positive test will enter a cardiac screening protocol. The MAC’s approved COVID-19 testing protocols, including four tests per week, will begin Monday, Oct. 5. The complete set of protocols will be released next week, the release said.
“We appreciate the leadership shown by Commissioner Steinbrecher and the Mid-American Conference’s medical advisors in developing a plan that will allow us to compete safely this fall,” said Ohio Director of Athletics Julie Cromer.
One of the primary changes that led to reconsideration, according to the news release, was the availability of tests and timeliness of receiving test results across the Conference, in addition to the changes and improvements of testing protocols. The MAC is establishing criteria relative to contest interruptions and cancellations, monitoring and reporting of test results as well as other COVID-19 regulations consistent with the NCAA resocialization guidelines. All football return to play is subject to national, state and local health guidelines.