DEKALB (WREX) — The Northern Illinois University football team and its 11 Mid-American Conference counterparts will play a 2020 football season beginning in November, the MAC Office announced Friday following a meeting of the MAC Council of Presidents.
League teams will play a six-game season beginning November 4, 2020 and concluding with a MAC Championship game on December 18 or 19. Teams can begin preseason practices on October 5. The complete schedule for all 12 teams will be announced at a later date.
Advancements and availability of testing, including the ability to get more rapid results, and increased protocols for cardiac screening, all contributed to the decision to return to competition, according to NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier.
“From the beginning, NIU and the MAC, led by our Council of Presidents and with guidance of the MAC Medical Advisory Board, have prioritized the health and safety of student-athletes,” Frazier said. “That has not changed and will not change. With the commitment across the league to the rigorous testing and screening protocols, we feel optimistic about the opportunity to play a schedule beginning in November.”
The move came about after numerous Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) leagues were able to successfully start their 2020 seasons while instituting new testing procedures, with more conferences announcing starting dates over the last week. NIU President Lisa Freeman said in order for the MAC to move forward with a fall season, the presidents again relied on the medical professionals.
“This was a difficult decision, just as it was to postpone the season back in August,” Freeman said. “In the end, we had to have assurances from the members of the MAC Medical Advisory Board, including representatives from our partners here at NIU from Northwestern Medicine, that the testing regimens and safety protocols could be implemented. We know that managing this virus is a day-to-day and week-to-week situation. Our priority remains the health and safety of our entire campus and community, including student-athletes.”
NIU Athletics will be in communication with season ticket members regarding their 2020 options as decisions regarding attendance are finalized. The Huskies will also be introducing additional ways fans can engage with NIU Football and their fellow Huskie fans during games this year.