(Stats Perform) - The Big South postponed fall conference competition on Wednesday because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, but said its football programs can decide individually whether they will play up to four nonconference games.
The Big South became the 10th of 13 FCS conferences to shift its potential conference schedule to the spring semester.
"We are all broken-hearted that we will not be able to provide competitive opportunities for Big South student-athletes this fall." Big South commissioner Kyle Kallander said. "However, the path forward must protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, and some of the current trends and unknowns with COVID-19 have made that a huge challenge. Our intention is to shift these fall seasons to the spring as we would like nothing more than to crown Big South champions in all 19 of our sports this (academic) year."
Had the Big South held a football season this fall, it would have had a mere four-team conference race with Campbell, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb and Kennesaw State. Defending champ Monmouth and Hampton announced last month they would not compete in the fall, while North Alabama is ineligible for the conference title during its four-year transition to full Division I status. UNA, which on Monday paused preseason camp and switched to voluntary conditioning due to the uncertainty across college football, said after the Big South announcement it hopes to play nonconference games.
North Carolina A&T and Robert Morris - set to join the Big South next July - could play conference opponents in the spring, but the games would not count in the standings.
The Ohio Valley, Southern and Southland are the only FCS conferences yet to announce a change to their fall season. Of those three, the SoCon is the only one whose entire membership is currently conducting preseason camp.
If health conditions allow for a spring season, FCS conferences are expecting their regular season will lead to playoffs.