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Big Sky alters volleyball, soccer schedules

by From news services
| May 12, 2020 1:08 AM

University of Idaho arena construction continues

FARMINGTON, Utah — The Big Sky Conference’s Presidents’ Council voted Monday to allow its members to make institutional decisions in accordance with NCAA policies regarding when its student-athletes will resume practice and competition.

The Presidents’ Council also approved several changes to a number of the Big Sky Conference schedules and championships for the 2020-21 academic year.

The changes to the championships and schedules, which were approved for the 2020-21 academic year only, impact the following sports:

• Volleyball will play a 16-match regular season conference schedule, with the top four teams advancing to the conference’s postseason tournament to be held at defending champion Northern Colorado, which earned that honor by virtue of winning the 2019 regular season. Each school’s conference slate will feature eight opponents to be played on consecutive days at the same location.

• Women’s soccer will stage its usual nine-game regular season, at the end of which the team with the most points (or, if necessary, the team that earns the tiebreaker) will be designated as the Big Sky’s automatic qualifier to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

“While this is unfortunate, everyone has had to make sacrifices during this time,” Idaho women’s soccer coach Jeremy Clevenger said. “I am positive that the Vandal women’s soccer team will be ready for this new challenge. Each game will mean a little more this season. We will need everyone’s support during the season, especially at home.”

• For the second consecutive year, Idaho State will serve as the site for the 2021 Indoor Track and Field championships, allowing more schools to bus their teams to this event. Weber State, which was scheduled to host the 2020 Outdoor Track and Field championships, will retain its turn in the rotation and host the 2022 event.

• Softball will play its expected 18-game regular season conference schedule, after which a four-team conference championship will be staged at Weber State, which was the 2019 (and thus is still the defending) champion.

• Both men’s and women’s tennis will compete in a divisional schedule format, with the top two teams from each of the two divisions advancing to a four-team conference championship at a single site to be determined.

• The annual Football Kickoff event held the last two years in Spokane will be conducted remotely this summer as a virtual event. More information will be announced in the coming weeks to the media and fans about how to participate and watch.

The conference also is implementing additional adjustments to other operational expenses. Modifications to additional sports will be determined in the coming weeks following the conference’s annual spring meetings, which will be held remotely during the first week of June.

MOSCOW — While the University of Idaho has worked to adapt to the current situation surrounding COVID-19, construction on the Idaho Central Credit Union Arena continues and is still scheduled to be completed in the late summer of 2021.

Construction on the $51 million facility can be viewed live at GoVandals.com/ICCUArena. The most prominent features to date, the west end stair towers, are immediately visible. While much of the current work is with the core of the building, construction on the wood super-structure is set to begin in June and run through the summer.

“When you drive by the Arena site, you can see the two concrete stair towers on the west side of the building, and the two structural shear walls on the east side of the building,” said Guy Esser, U of I project manager. “These roughly represent the four main structural corners of the building. Starting in June, you will start to see the intricate wood structural elements being installed.”

The wood structure will be massive. In total, there will be 854 Glulam beams, weighing 442 tons, combined. The largest will weigh more than four tons, and is 10¼ inches by 60 inches and 58 feet long.

While certain changes have been made in the interest of health of safety, the project remains on track for completion in the summer of 2021. Crews remain on site and David Shourd, project manager for Hoffman Construction and General Contractor for the project, recalled a number of added precautions.

“Hoffman has worked closely with the subcontractors and regional construction community to adopt best practices such as eliminating large group meetings that cannot adhere to social distancing guidelines, portable restrooms being provided on a per-crew basis, providing additional parking so crews could travel in their individual cars to maintain social distancing, installed additional portable handwash stations, installed hand sanitizer stations, and providing cleaning solution throughout the site for use by all to wipe down surfaces.”