(Editor's note: Great Northwest Athletic Conference media release)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Citing the health and safety of student-athletes as the overriding concern, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) CEO Board announced Friday it is suspending all intercollegiate athletics competition through Nov. 30 due to COVID-19.
All 16 men's and women's varsity sports at Montana State University Billings will suspend all competition through Nov. 30 in accordance with the conference's decision.
"The decision to suspend fall sports is incredibly disheartening and disappointing for all of us, however, the primary concern surrounding everything we do is the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff," MSUB athletic director Krista Montague said. "It is a sad and gut-wrenching decision, however, an incredible amount of thought and consideration went into it. We support the decision and believe it is in the best interest of all involved."
Student-athletes are encouraged to visit the MSUB Athletics Frequently Asked Questions Webpage to address many topics of interest, such as how Friday's decision affects eligibility, scholarships and national letters of intent.
The CEO Board said it will continue to monitor developments related to the pandemic and make a decision by Oct. 15 regarding the status of competition after Nov. 30.
Friday's announcement, which affects all 17 sports sponsored by the GNAC, precludes contests of any kind against outside competition regardless of whether a sport is in the championship or non-championship segment of its playing calendar. Conference members will have institutional autonomy regarding organized practice activities, according to the CEO Board.
"This was not a decision taken lightly but one the Board believes is in the best interests of student-athletes and staff," said Dave Haglund, GNAC commissioner. "There is no greater priority than the health and well-being of our student-athletes and this action is reflective of the GNAC's commitment to this prevailing principle. We understand that many student-athletes will be disappointed and saddened by this news, particularly our seniors, and we have profound empathy for everyone affected by this decision, including non-conference opponents. We can only ask for their thoughtful understanding during these challenging and unprecedented times."
Haglund said that conference governance groups have already engaged in active discussions for providing meaningful seasons of competition for the conference's fall championship sports, including the feasibility of playing in the spring.