The Idaho Vandals and the Montana Grizzlies, members of the Big Sky Conference, have each had a non-conference game canceled due to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
Both non-conference opponents are from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) in Division II, which announced on Friday that they are suspending all fall athletic competition. Idaho was scheduled to host the Western Oregon Wolves, while Montana was slated to entertain the Central Washington Wildcats, both on Saturday, Sept. 5.
“This was not a decision taken lightly but one the Board believes is in the best interests of student-athletes and staff,” said Dave Haglund, GNAC commissioner. “There is no greater priority than the health and well-being of our student-athletes and this action is reflective of the GNAC’s commitment to this prevailing principle. We understand that many student-athletes will be disappointed and saddened by this news, particularly our seniors, and we have profound empathy for everyone affected by this decision, including non-conference opponents. We can only ask for their thoughtful understanding during these challenging and unprecedented times.”
This is the second non-conference contest in 2020 that has been canceled for the Idaho Vandals. Idaho’s Sept. 19 trip to take on the Washington Cougars was canceled when the Pac-12 announced they would play a conference-only schedule this season.
Per Idaho’s release, the Vandals are discussing scheduling alternatives for both games.
Idaho is now scheduled to open the 2020 season on Saturday, Sept. 12 on the road against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa.
The Montana Grizzlies are now set to open their 2020 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Missouri State Bears. UM Director of Athletics Kent Haslam sent an email to season-ticket holders on Friday after news of the cancellation broke.
“That game (Central Washington) has been canceled, leaving our football team with 10 scheduled games, five of which are in Missoula,” Haslam wrote. “At this point, we are still planning to play the remaining games. However, the landscape of college athletics is changing quickly.
“The Big Sky Conference President’s Council and Athletic Directors are engaged in ongoing discussions about how to best navigate fall sports amongst the realities of COVID-19, with the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans as our top priority.”