The University of Montana Western football team will opt out of the spring Frontier Conference schedule, Montana Western administration informed the conference on Tuesday.
“As the pandemic has progressed, the health and safety of our student-athletes has always been our number one priority,” Montana Western Director of Athletics Bill Wilson said. “As each week has passed, it became increasingly clear to us that moving forward with the conference football schedule was going to be very difficult at best. With scheduled games taking place as early as March, we had to make this very difficult decision.”
"The entire span of this pandemic has been extremely unpredictable and difficult in a myriad of ways,” head coach Ryan Nourse said.
“My heart breaks for all of the seniors who did not get a full season to compete one last time before they move onto the next journey in their life. The current choice provides a clarity and flexibility to our players.”
The fall 2020 football season was moved to the spring of 2021 in mid-August. As the winter progressed, the likelihood of practicing, let alone playing, proved to be increasingly difficult.
“Geography, weather and facilities are not on our side at Western, Nourse said. “We have had a harsh winter here and to practice and play on a natural surface is not safe. Frozen synthetic turf is tough enough to play on, but not as challenging and potentially harmful as frozen dirt and grass.”
Montana Western will still conduct a regular spring practice schedule. All the team's seniors will have the option to return next fall.
“We have an opportunity to put together a consistent and effective training plan to prepare for the fall of 2021,” Nourse added. “This gives us the option to schedule potential scrimmages or exhibition games later in the spring if and when we can safely be prepared to play."