By JOHN WUSTROW
The College of Idaho football team was set to play a 10-game, all-Frontier Conference schedule for the second year in a row this fall.
But a couple of months after announcing their schedule for the 2020 season, the Yotes and the league will have to go back to the drawing board.
The NAIA announced Thursday that it is reducing the number of regular season contests allowed across all fall sports during the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For most other College of Idaho fall teams, which outside of football competes in the Cascade Conference, the Yotes could possibly play all their scheduled conference games. But with football lowering its maximum number of games from 11 to nine, that means at least one league game will have to be canceled.
Both the Frontier Conference and Cascade Conference will be meeting in the coming weeks to discus how to adjust the schedules. Many fall sports schedule had already been set.
“We are appreciative of the NAIA’s decision in regards to the upcoming fall athletic season,” College of Idaho athletic director Reagan Rossi said in a release. “This allows the College, along with both the Cascade and Frontier Conferences nearly three full months to plan for a safe and healthy return for our student-athletes this fall.”
Additionally, the start date for fall seasons has been pushed back and a return-to-play threshold has been instituted. The threshold goal is to have about half of participating institutions in each sport receive clearance from their local authorities to return to competition before the season can begin. For example, when 47 of the 95 schools that compete in football receive local clearance, the football season can begin.
The NAIA has also barred all practices from beginning before Aug. 15. As a result, football will not be allowed to start until Sept. 12, while all other sports can start Sept. 5.
The College of Idaho football team was scheduled to begin its season Sept. 5 at Rocky Mountain.
Both the College of Idaho men’s and women’s soccer teams have two games currently scheduled prior to Sept. 5, including a Aug. 29 game between the Yotes and Northwest Nazarene’s men’s soccer teams. Additionally, both the College of Idaho men’s and women’s soccer teams have scrimmages schedule in August, while the women’s team also has an exhibition game against Northwest Nazarene scheduled for Aug. 22. Both teams will have to cut their schedule down to 14 games. If the conference schedules are left as is, the men’s team will have room for one nonconference game, while the women will have room for two.
If the Cascade Conference doesn’t change the conference schedule for volleyball, teams will be left without any opportunity for nonconference games. Volleyball was reduced down from 28 dates to 22. With Lewis-Clark State becoming a full-time Cascade Conference member this school year, the Cascade Conference was set to hold a 22-game conference schedule, with each school playing the other 11 twice. But even then, the schedule would need to be adjusted, as the Yotes’ first conference game is scheduled for Sept. 4 against Corban at J.A. Albertson Activities Center.
Cross Country has reduced the number of meets allowed from eight to seven. Although the College of Idaho has not released its cross country schedule yet, it doesn’t appear that this will change their schedule much. Since 2014, the Yotes have had just four regular season meets each season. In the past three years, their first meet has taken place the second weekend in September.
As of now the NAIA plans to hold all fall championship events as planned. The NAIA also said it has no planned changes for winter sports at this time, but acknowledged that adjustments could be necessary as the season gets closer.