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BOISE — The COVID-19 pandemic brought another crushing blow to the Treasure Valley Monday with the cancellation of the 2020 season for Boise State’s football and fall sports teams.

The Mountain West Conference announced late Monday afternoon the cancellation of all fall sports, which includes the Broncos’ football team, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s volleyball and women’s soccer, which last season won its first Mountain West tournament title.

The league said it would explore rescheduling fall sports in the spring, but made no commitment.

“In the end, the physical and mental well-being of student-athletes across the conference necessitated today’s announcement,” Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey said in a statement. “I am so appreciative of all the efforts to this point, and I feel deeply for everyone that has been working towards a championship-caliber season, especially our student-athletes.” The Mountain West becomes the second FBS conference in three days to cancel fall sports, including football. The Mid-American Conference on Saturday made same decision to not have fall sports.

The decision, which technically was an “indefinite postponement” according to the Mountain West, was “in response to ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus in conjunction with athletic competition.

According to a report from Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, the decision came after a vote of league presidents Monday.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our membership and staff have been working diligently to prepare for a fall sports season,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a release. “We were hopeful we could carefully and responsibly conduct competition as originally scheduled with essential protocols in place. However, numerous external factors and unknowns outside our control made this difficult decision necessary.

“I fully understand the impact of this outcome on our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff who work so hard daily to play the sports we all love, and I share in their disappointment. We will continue to navigate this pandemic together, overcome the obstacles and return to intercollegiate athletics at the earliest opportunity.”

The Idaho Press reported Sunday that canceling the 2020 football season would mean a loss of $20 million for the Boise State athletic department, which is nearly half of the department’s entire budget. It also would mean a potential $15 million economic loss for the Treasure Valley.

Football players from around the Mountain West joined together Thursday in a letter to the conference to voice concerns over playing a fall football season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, saying they did not “feel safe enough participating in this upcoming season without reform.”

Given Monday’s announcement, it’s unclear when Boise State’s fall student-athletes will be able to return to practice, or whether they will be given an extra year of eligibility.

“Decisions regarding next steps for our programs will coincide with NCAA legislation and guidance, and safety protocol from health officials at all levels,” Apsey said in a release.

San Jose State President Mary Papazian, the chair of the Mountain West Board of Directors, said in a release, “Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our students, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and overall communities. Through the hard work of many over the past several months, the Conference made every effort to create an opportunity for our student-athletes to compete, and we empathize with the disappointment this creates for everyone associated with our programs.

“The best interests of our students and student-athletes remain our focus and we will persist in our efforts to forge a viable and responsible path forward.”

The Mountain West said “there are ongoing discussions regarding the status of winter sports.” The Boise State men’s and women’s basketball teams are currently slated to start the season in early November.

Apsey, Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin and school President Dr. Marlene Tromp were not made available for interviews Monday, but Harsin is scheduled to hold a video teleconference with reporters on Tuesday.

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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