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Mountain West allowing athletes back on campus, cutting costs

The Mountain West will allow athletes in all sports to begin voluntary on-campus workouts immediately.

That was among several announcements the conference made Monday shortly after its annual meeting of the board of directors, made up of the university presidents.

Each league university will decide when athletes return. The Mountain West suspended such activities March 26 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Given the unique circumstances in the locales of our campuses, it was the desire of the board of directors to provide member institutions maximum flexibility to engage in the return of athletics activities in accordance with state, local, NCAA and campus guidelines,” Utah State president and board chairwoman Noelle Cockett said in a statement. “The Mountain West Health and Safety Advisory Group will assist us in those efforts as we move from conditioning to practice and ultimately competition.”

Most of the conference’s decisions centered around cost-cutting steps. Those included:

— Eliminating the baseball, tennis and women’s soccer postseason tournaments.

— Reducing baseball and softball series from three days to two by playing a doubleheader and a single game.

— Reducing indoor track and golf competitions from three days to two and outdoor track events from four days to three.

— Holding the swimming championships at separate campus pools over three days.

— Using a 16-match round robin schedule for volleyball.

— Allowing men’s basketball programs to schedule a second opponent that is not a Division I school.

— Cutting the conference operating budget by 18 percent by reducing travel and freezing salaries and open job positions.

— Freezing officiating fees.

— Moving coaches’ and conference meetings to a virtual format as well as football and basketball media days.

“The Mountain West board of directors and directors of athletics have collaborated for the past several weeks developing potential options to address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement. “The focus of this effort has been to protect opportunities for student-athletes and to maintain the intercollegiate athletics offerings at each member institution which are so integral to the fabric of the respective campuses. These unprecedented times demand creative solutions, and great work has been done at the institutional level and collectively as a conference.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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