Presidents of the 12 Mountain West football schools are expected to vote this week on an eight-game fall season, and a person with ties to UNLV is “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects of playing.
“(The Rebels) are getting prepared in case (the Mountain West) moves forward with fall football,” the person said. “Several steps to get it to the goal line.”
UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois declined to comment on the situation.
The Mountain West was one of several conferences to cancel fall football last month because of the coronavirus pandemic, but optimism resurfaced last week among the league’s member schools when the Big Ten announced a return to play. The MW began crafting a plan last week, and commissioner Craig Thompson issued a statement, noting that the league hopes to return “at the earliest opportunity.”
“This includes finalizing a plan for frequent, rapid response testing and continuing to monitor the status of public health directives in our MW states and communities,” the statement said.
Mountain West athletic directors and other officials met Monday to discuss coronavirus testing protocols, according to a report from Yahoo Sports. The plan did not include daily testing like the Big Ten, according to Yahoo, but it does involve alternative antigen testing that could combat the spread of the virus.
UNLV’s epidemiologist has helped the conference cultivate a plan, a league source said.
The Mountain West hopes to begin its schedule Oct. 24 and incorporate all 12 football programs, another league source said. There were initial concerns about the four programs housed in California and New Mexico because of local coronavirus restrictions, but some of those concerns have dissipated.
A prospective conference championship game would be played Dec. 19, allowing Mountain West programs to compete for a berth in one of the six bowl games played on New Year’s Day.
“There are a few schools still having some challenges, but we are working hard to get there,” the person said.