The Big Sky Conference postponed its football season to the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic and called for the FCS playoffs to be moved to the second semester as well.
The Big Sky’s decision, announced Friday, all but officially ends any chance of the FCS playoffs, which are an NCAA-sponsored event unlike the College Football Playoff which crowns a champion at the highest level of Division I, being held in the fall. Earlier in the week, the NCAA announced each of its three divisions would determine whether national championship events should be held in fall sports. The NCAA said if more than 50% of schools that compete in a sport did not compete in a regular season, the championship would be canceled.
With the Big Sky’s postponement and the Pioneer Football League’s decision to not have a conference season earlier in the day, more than 70 of the 127 FCS schools have said they will not play in the fall.
The Big Sky, traditionally one of the strongest FCS conferences with Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington, said it will attempt to play an eight-game conference schedule in the spring.
Montana State athletics director Leon Costello said the move to the spring allows the student-athletes the chance to prepare and play for a championship, possibly with more fans attending games.
“In honest conversations with our student-athletes, the points I heard most consistently were the importance of playing for a championship, playing in front of our fans and providing a safe environment,” Costello said Friday.