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First Top-Tier NCAA League Calls It Quits

'I'm heartbroken we are in this place'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 8, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Mid-American Conference on Saturday became the first league competing at college football's highest level to cancel its fall season because of COVID-19 concerns, the AP reports. "I'm heartbroken we are in this place," MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. With the MAC's 12 schools facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly coronavirus protocols, the conference's university presidents made the decision to cancel all fall sports—including soccer and volleyball—and explore making them up in the spring season. But Steinbrecher stressed this was first a decision about the health and well-being of the athletes, and the conference's medical experts were not comfortable that sports could be run safely.

MAC schools rely heavily on revenue from playing road games against power conference teams. Most of those games were canceled when the Power Five went to exclusively or mostly conference games. Without them, the strain became too great of trying to implement all that it would take to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic. The conference that built a brand name—#MACtion—and managed to score an ESPN deal by playing football games on Tuesdays and Wednesday nights is now the first to surrender to the pandemic, hoping it can regroup in with a spring season. Nine of 13 conferences at Division I's second-tier of football, the Championship Subdivision, have already announced postponed their fall football seasons. MAC is the first bowl subdivision league to cancel.

(Read more pandemic stories.)

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