WHITEFISH -- The Frontier Conference has further delayed its spring football season.
Commissioner Kent Paulson announced the changes, which will push the first weekend of competition to March 13, on Thursday.
“These changes were the result of a tremendous amount of hard work put in by the league’s athletic directors and endorsed by the league presidents and chancellors,” Paulson said in a media release from the Frontier Conference.
After postponing its football season last fall, the Frontier was scheduled to begin its spring season on Feb. 27. Conference members -- Montana schools Carroll College, Montana Tech, Montana Western, MSU-Northern and Rocky Mountain College and out-of-state schools College of Idaho, Eastern Oregon and Southern Oregon -- were slated to play seven-game league schedules with April 10 serving as the final weekend of regular-season play.
April 10 will still serve as the end of the regular season, leaving only five Saturdays available for conference play.
Practices are now scheduled to begin on Feb. 15, allowing teams four full weeks of practice before games can begin on March 13.
The NAIA national playoffs are scheduled to kick off on April 17. The national championship game is slated for May 10 in Grambling, La.
“Along with aiding the schools and athletic conferences in numerous regions of the country, the NAIA has given a great amount of leeway in competition planning," Paulson said. “That leeway will allow for conference championships, a pathway to postseason play that leads to an opportunity to win a national championship. We hope in the upcoming months to turn the corner in addressing this virus and conclude the 2020-2021 athletic year on a positive note.”
The new format addresses the following issues the conference is still facing with the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. The goal of assuring continued student-athlete safety.
2. Weather concerns affecting outdoor sports.
3. Upholding the desire for the utmost care regarding facilities sanitation, etc. but at the same time maintaining the adaptability, creativity and flexibility for providing quality schedules.