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Patriot League the latest to postpone football, other fall sports

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Thanks to the Patriot League, the Ivy League has some FCS company.

Earlier this month, the Ivy League confirmed that football and other fall sports have been postponed.  Football could be moved to the spring, although such an issue won’t be taken up until after the end of the fall semester.

Less than a week later, the Patriot League announced that it too has shutdown fall sports in the conference.  That, of course, includes football. “Decisions surrounding winter and spring sport competition will be made at a later date,” the release from the FCS conference stated.

The league added that “[t]he opportunity for conditioning, strength training and other practice opportunities in all sports will be permitted provided health and safety conditions support such activities.”

“The collegiate athletics experience at all Patriot League institutions is valuable to fulfilling our educational and developmental missions, and the League recognizes that any degree of non-competition this fall is deeply disappointing to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans,” the Patriot League stated. “However, the health and safety of our campuses and communities must be our highest priority.

“The League is committed to exploring creative approaches and alternatives to providing future competitive experiences to our fall sport student-athletes, including the possibility of conducting fall sport competition and championships in the second semester.”

The move is far from a surprise.  Over the past couple of weeks, it was confirmed that at least three football games pitting teams from that conference against FBS foes had been canceled — Western Michigan-Colgate (HERE), Navy-Lafayette College (HERE), Hawaii-Fordham (HERE).  The reason for the cancelations? The Patriot League mandated late last month that all of its member schools are not permitted to travel by air or stay overnight in another locale.

Syracuse will also be looking for a Sept. 19 game as the ACC school was scheduled to open its home slate against Colgate that date.  That, of course, will depend on the decision the Orange’s conference makes later this month, though.

MAC schools stand to lose millions because of Big Ten going to conference only schedule

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No conference will feel the financial pinch of one of the Power Five’s domino-tipping decisions more than MAC football.

Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten confirmed reports that it will be going with a conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.  That means, of course, that the 14 members of the league will forego playing a combined 42 non-conference games.  Nine of those 42 were to come against other Power Five programs.  Those schools are more well-positioned financially to take any hit.

Then there’s MAC football.

All told, 11 games were scheduled to be played between members of the Mid-American Conference and the Big Ten.  Ball State (Indiana, Michigan), Bowling Green (Illinois, Ohio State), Central Michigan (Nebraska, Northwestern) and Northern Illinois (Iowa, Maryland) each had two games on this season’s docket against Big Ten teams.

According to USA Today, MAC schools stand to lose a combined $10.5 million from those canceled football games.  Bowling Green and Central Michigan will take $2.2 million and $2.15 million hits, respectively.  Kent State would’ve been paid $1.5 million for its game against Penn State.

At this point, it’s unclear if the MAC schools will have any legal recourse to recoup the money.  Rest assured, though, all of those impacted by the Big Ten’s decision are looking into that angle as we speak.

“Every member of the NCAA is attempting to navigate these very difficult times in college athletics,” Bowling Green athletic director Bob Moosbrugger said in a statement. “While we are certainly disappointed that our student-athletes will not have the opportunity to compete in non-conference games against Big Ten opponents, we understand that difficult decisions need to be made.

“The decision by the Big Ten is the tip of the iceberg. Ten FBS conferences have signed a college football playoff agreement with an expectation that we will work together for the good of college football. If we are to solve these challenges and be truly dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our student-athletes, we need to do a better job of working together.”

It should also be noted that BYU will be directly impacted by the Big Ten’s move as well.  The football independent has two paycheck games scheduled against B1G opponents this season, at Michigan State and at Minnesota.  At this point, it’s unclear how much BYU stands to lose.

Pandemic-related restrictions force Western Michigan to schedule a new season-opening opponent

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The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted the 2020 season for Western Michigan football.

Western Michigan was scheduled to open the upcoming football season against Colgate on Sept. 4.  However, the Patriot League, Colgate’s conference, mandated late last month that all of its member schools not be permitted to travel by air or stay overnight in another locale.  As the distance between Hamilton, NY, to Kalamazoo, Mich., is nine-plus hours, that opener was certainly in jeopardy.

This week, Western Michigan confirmed that it will now open the 2020 college football season against Stony Brook.  The game will still be played Sept. 4 at Waldo Stadium, the football home of the Broncos.

“We are looking forward to opening the 2020 season with Stony Brook,” WMU head coach Tim Lester said in a statement. “We know coronavirus has changed, and will keep changing, how we operate this season. We will continue to operate with an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, staff members, fans and WMU community.”

It should be noted that Syracuse is also supposed to open its home schedule Sept. 19 against Colgate.  It’s unclear if that game will be played, although distance certainly isn’t as much of an issue as it was for Western Michigan.

WMU is coming off a second consecutive 7-6 season under Lester, who will be entering his fourth season with the Broncos.  That 2019 campaign also included narrowly missing out on a berth in the MAC championship game.

Former Western Michigan football player Jamal Williams, security officer killed in hospital shooting

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A very tragic situation involving a former Western Michigan football player has played out in Indiana.

According to reports, 22-year-old ex-WMU defensive lineman Jamal Williams was checked into a mental facility at a Muncie, Ind., hospital earlier this month.  Tuesday, Williams was involved in an early-morning struggle with a nurse and, eventually, two security officers that left both Williams and one security officer, 59-year-old Ryan Askew, dead.  Both of the deceased were killed when they were shot by another security officer, 65-year-old Benny Freeman.

The situation began when staff at the hospital called for help when the 6-3, 290-pound Williams, a psychiatric patient, allegedly grabbed a nurse and began “beating [her] pretty badly.” Both Askew and Freeman responded to the call.  What unfolded after was an utter tragedy.

From NBC 5 in Chicago:

[Williams] then grabbed Askew by the neck and placed him in a chokehold. While he was being choked, Askew drifted in and out of consciousness, and according to Lake County Prosecuting Attorney Bernard Carter, the retired officer made a startling request of Freeman.

“One time when he became conscious during this struggle, he directed Benny to shoot him,” Carter said. “The nurse said he was really reluctant, hand on holster, and held for a few beats. He saw that Askew was going unconscious, so he shot twice.”

One of the bullets hit [Williams] in the face, killing him, and another bullet hit Askew in the arm. The bullet then traveled into Askew’s chest.

Both Askew and Freeman are retired from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Williams began his collegiate career at the College of DuPage, a junior college in Ilinois.  The Chicago native moved on to WMU, where his only nine appearances came in  2019.

“The loss of life is tragic,” Western Michigan head football coach Tim Lester said. “Today is a sad day. Our thoughts are with everybody involved”

NCAA Council formally approves six-week preseason model for football, which will begin July 13 for teams that start season Sept. 5

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The NCAA is proceeding with a significant step toward prepping for the 2020 college football season.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the NCAA Div. I Oversight Committee was crafting a plan that would shape the path college football programs would take to prepare for the upcoming season.  Last week, the NCAA announced that it has finalized its proposal for a preseason model for the sport.  However, the plan still needed the approval of the NCAA Division I Council.

Thursday, that expected thumbs-up came to fruition as the council has approved what will essentially be a six-week preseason for college football.  The NCAA writes that, “[a]ssuming a first game on Sept. 5, the model begins summer access activities July 13 and adds meetings and walk-throughs July 24.  Preseason practice begins Aug. 7.” Schools that open the seasoning Week 0 (Aug. 29), all of the dates would get seven days subtracted from them.  It’s unclear if teams whose first games are Sept. 3 will follow the Sept. 5 model or not.

The activities mentioned do not include the ongoing voluntary on-campus workouts.

As for the particulars?  The NCAA referred to its previous release as a guideline:

… student-athletes may be required to participate in up to eight hours of weight training, conditioning and film review per week (not more than two hours of film review per week) from July 13-23.

Then, from July 24 through Aug. 6, student-athletes may be required to participate in up to 20 hours of countable athletically related activities per week (not more than four hours per day) as follows:

— Up to eight hours per week for weight training and conditioning.
— Up to six hours per week for walk-throughs, which may include the use of a football.
— Up to six hours per week for meetings, which may include film review, team meetings, position meetings, one-on-one meetings, etc.
— During this 14-day period, student-athletes are required to get at least two days off.

The model does not make any adjustments to the legislated 29-day preseason practice period. In the previous example, the school’s preseason practice period would begin Aug. 7 with a five-day acclimatization period, followed by the opportunity for up to 25 on-field practices.