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All fall sports suspended at Eastern Washington

| August 11, 2020 1:00 AM

Eastern Washington University will suspend all fall sports until further notice out of safety concerns in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eastern Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey announced Monday.

The decision comes on the heels of last Friday’s announcement by the Big Sky Conference to postpone the league’s football schedule to the winter/spring. The league had already announced the suspension of non-conference play for league schools in the other sports, but no Big Sky edict has been made as of yet in terms of re-scheduling or cancellations.

The Eagles had no firm start dates for practices to begin, but will continue off-season workouts in accordance with all NCAA, federal, state, local and EWU mandates regarding social distancing, wearing of masks and disclosure of symptoms. Eastern continues to work on policies and procedures regarding COVID-19 testing.

After the Big Sky’s decision in July to delay fall sports, Eastern’s soccer schedule was set to begin Oct. 2 on the road and Oct. 9 at home. Volleyball was also set to open on the road on Sept. 24 and then play at home on Oct. 1. Cross Country had its home meet on Sept. 1 canceled, and was expected to begin its season on Sept. 18.

Tennis and golf customarily have the majority of their seasons in the spring, but have a non-traditional season in the fall. Neither of those sports had announced any scheduled competitions for the fall because of COVID-19.

Non-conference play for the conference’s football programs was listed as “still pending further review” by the league as the result of last Friday’s announcement. Eastern had home non-conference games scheduled on Sept. 12 versus Western Illinois and Sept. 19 against Northern Arizona, and are working with those schools to re-schedule as a result of the Big Sky’s decision, as well as that made by EWU on Monday.

The Big Sky Conference announced Aug. 7 that all league schools — including Eastern — will move to an eight-game football schedule in early 2021. Presumably, the schedule could start as early as February.

In its news release, the Big Sky said it has begun exploring modified versions of a conference football schedule to be played in the spring and fully supports the NCAA shifting the FCS championship to the spring.

The 2020 schedule was going to be Eastern’s best in school history, featuring home games versus Montana, Montana State, Idaho and two-time defending Big Sky Conference champion Weber State. There is no indication as of yet whether or not the fall schedule will carry over to the spring, or if a more regionalized schedule will be utilized.

Once the fall and spring schedules are determined, Eastern football season ticket holders will be contacted with their options. The university expects to refund/reduce the price fans paid if the number of home games is reduced. For information and a list of frequently asked questions, fans can go to http://goeags.com/FBSpring21.

Previously, Eastern’s game at the University of Florida was canceled July 30 as the result of the Southeastern Conference electing to not play non-conference games.