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Boise State, Mountain West To Resume Football October 24

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Update on Friday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m.:

On Thursday, the Mountain West Conference approved a plan to begin an eight-game football season on October 24. The unexpected return to the field will require athletes, coaches and trainers to be tested three times a week – which won’t be cheap.

“It'll be well into the millions of dollars,” said conference commissioner Craig Thomspon in a press conference Friday.

Right now, he said the cost of the rapid antigen testing will be absorbed by the Mountain West.

If schools can’t compete due to sick players, games will be cancelled with no make-ups. Schedules for games haven’t been released, but Thompson said they are being worked on “frantically”.

Recently, Boise State University has seen an increasing number of infections.

In Friday’s press conference, Boise State Head Football Coach Brian Harsin said keeping athletes healthy and campus infections low will be a team effort.

“This is a huge test for a lot of our students, certainly for our football players and our student athletes,” said Harsin.

And what about the fans? Stadium capacities will be determined by each institution’s local health ordinances. Coach Harsin hopes fans will eventually be able to attend. Until then, he said the Broncos will have to bring their own energy.

Original post from Thursday, Sept. 24 at 9:20 p.m.:

The Mountain West Conference Board of Directors Thursday approved a plan to resume the fall football season with games starting October 24, subject to the approval from health officials in each team's jurisdiction.

Teams will play an eight-game fall schedule, with two schools advancing to a championship game scheduled for December 19.

In a statement, Boise State President Dr. Marlene Tromp said, “I’m so excited that our coaches and student-athletes are going to get to do this fall what they do best — compete and win. It’s time to let the Broncos out of the corral.”

A conference schedule will be announced in the coming days. According to national media reports, Mountain West Conference athletic directors had met earlier this week to finalize plans, including testing protocols.

“I am thrilled for our student-athletes and coaches to be able to compete this fall,” Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey said in a statement. “There has been a lot of great work done by a number of people in order to pull this together, and I am incredibly appreciative of their efforts.”

Details on a COVID-19 testing program were not announced Thursday night. 

Dennis Dodd of cbssports.com reported the conference plans to test three times per week — fewer than the daily testing programs the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences announced were essential to rebooting the fall football season.

Also unclear is how the conference will proceed if one or more teams cannot practice or play due to local restrictions or a COVID-19 outbreak.

Fans watching games in-person is yet another conundrum. 

Boise State is subject to Ada County health orders, and could be subject to more specific local restrictions. The current CDH order limits gatherings of any kind to fewer than 50 people, though bars can open at capacities greater than 50 if reopening plans have been approved by the health department. Health district guidelines have exempted team sports from the 50-person limits in areas with moderate or low risk of the coronavirus.

The Mountain West had suspended the fall sports season August 10. It is the second-to-last conference to reverse course and restart the fall football season, following announcements by the Big Ten Conference and Pac-12 Conference. Mid-American Conference presidents meet Friday to vote on their own plan to restart the football season. The smaller-school Football Championship Subdivision, which includes Idaho and Idaho State University football teams, postponed the fall football season but does not appear to be pursuing a restart plan and will attempt to play in the spring.

Presidents of the 12 Mountain West Conference schools make up the board of directors. Specific votes made by individuals were not available.

This story will be updated.

A previous version of this story referenced a quote from Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson in an Associated Press report which has been retracted. AP reporter Ralph Russo has clarified Commissioner Thompson did not say the conference would not move forward without a daily testing ability.

Follow Troy Oppie on Twitter @GoodBadOppie for more local news.

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