No fall for Frontier either
Lights will have to wait until at least spring of 2021 to play in their new stadium
Last updated 8/14/2020 at 7:56am
The past week has not been good news for college football. And Thursday, the bad news trickled down to the Frontier Conference, the state of Montana and Montana State University-Northern.
There will be no Frontier Conference football in 2020, and that Ultimately means, there will be no college football of any kind in the Treasure State this fall.
"At this time the Frontier Conference has elected to move the sport of football to the spring. The leagues administrators have diligently continued to evaluate high risk sports and have exhausted every resource available in making this decision today. The intention of the conference has always been to place the student-athletes, coaches and support staff's safety at the very top of the priority list. This announcement today will allow for all 8-teams to once again operate collectively as a conference in the spring and participate in a schedule providing that safety standards allow for play. The Frontier Conference will plan to participate in the post-season whenever the NAIA championship dates are set for next spring," the Frontier Council of Presidents announced Thursday afternoon.
"It's disappointing," Northern head coach Andrew Rolin said. "But it doesn't change the direction and course of our program. We will respond to this with a positive attitude, and we will keep doing what we're doing which is improving every day through continuous effort and continuos enthusiasm."
No doubt the Lights will respond, but it will also be hard knowing Northern will not have a fall season - a season that was highly-anticipated because of the construction of the new football stadium on campus.
And for much of the summer, the Lights thought they would be playing in the new stadium, because the Frontier had continued to plow ahead, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic surging in Montana, and even after associate football members Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon and College of Idaho announced they would not play football in the fall, as part of the Cascade Conference's postponing of all fall sports.
The league also continued to move forward even after the announcement that the Big Sky Conference, and Montana and Montana State, had canceled the fall season. Just last week, the Frontier announced that its eight-game schedule had been pushed back one week, but the league still intended to play this fall.
That tone, however, changed Thursday. As more and more conference and programs at all levels of college football continued to cancel the fall, and as conronavirus cases continue to spike in Montana, and pretty much across the United States, college football, including the Frontier, were left with few options but to push football out of the fall, and, possibly play some type of season in the spring.
"I feel for our guys," Rolin, in his third year at MSU-N, said. "But at the same time, this could be of benefit to us, because we're a young football team, and this time will be good for our young guys, both in a football sense, but especially academically. So again, we're going to make the best out of this."
Included in making the best of it, Rolin said there will be football at Northern this fall. He said fall camp will still open Saturday, and though the schedule and what the Lights can do will change, his team will use what time and good weather they have this fall to prepare for a season they hope will come, possibly as early as late February or March.
"That's all we can do is prepare for spring now," Rolin said. "So we will go forward with fall camp. Our hours will be limited, and what we do will be limited, as we continue to look out for the health and the best interests of our players. But we will definitely use the time we have this fall to continue to prepare for a spring season, and to continue to work towards all of our goals as a program.
"Those goals haven't and won't change," Rolin continued. "We are going to keep on working, we'll have a positive attitude and we will get through this tough time, and we'll do it together."
No time frame has been given for an announcement on what a spring Frontier or NAIA season might look like. Also, the Frontier announced on Thursday that cross country and regular season golf meets will still be held within the conference this fall.