The start to Northeastern State University’s 2020 football season has just been pushed back further due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association announced on Monday a plan to delay the start of all sports to the week of Sept. 28. Intercollegiate athletic practices will not begin until the week of Aug. 31.
For Northeastern State, the delay will also affect the soccer and golf programs.
The RiverHawks will miss their first three football contests against Missouri Western in the season and home opener at Doc Wadley Stadium (Sept. 12), and two road games against Central Missouri (Sept. 19) and Emporia State (Sept. 26), although the previously scheduled dates could eventually be played if there is an open or added date or to the spring semester if the NCAA passes legislation to move championships or decrease brackets, according to the MIAA COVID-19 Task Force.
Prior to a June 16 decision to trim the football schedule to 10 games, the RiverHawks were originally scheduled to begin their season on Sept. 3 against Emporia State.
The current formatted schedule now has NSU opening the season against Missouri Southern on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Doc Wadley Stadium. The RiverHawks will be at Northwest Missouri on Oct. 10, at home against Lincoln on Oct. 17, at Fort Hays State on Oct. 24, face Nebraska-Kearney and Pittsburg State in back-to-back home games on Oct. 31 and Nov. 7, and close the regular season against Central Oklahoma on Nov. 14 in Edmond.
A Monday press release from the MIAA states: “The CEO Council supported the recommendation to delay the start of all MIAA all intercollegiate athletic practices and competition; however, the group acknowledges that the ability to execute this plan is dependent on our students, employees, and fans demonstrating socially responsible behavior during this public health crisis. In addition, it is important that student-athletes continue to practice socially responsible behavior to help protect the health of the team.”
The MIAA also mentioned that restrictions and limitations on any activities involving student-athletes and coaches before Aug. 31 will be announced soon.
"This plan allows our student-athletes to get back on campus and get acclimated with the student body before we begin practices and competition," said MIAA Commissioner Mike Racy. "We remain hopeful that the MIAA student-athletes will be able to practice and compete this fall, but we need to be patient and make sure that we are doing that in a healthy and safe environment for our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators."
The CEO Council said it will continue to monitor this plan and adjust it as necessary to protect the health and safety of all involved in MIAA athletics. The plan will allow member universities to continue to monitor the COVID-19 Global Health Pandemic and to make decisions about athletics and other campus activities based on conditions in that community and with guidance from local and state health officials. The health and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and communities in the MIAA continues to be the Association's top priority. The MIAA is taking these unprecedented actions to help our campuses and communities continue to address this public health crisis.