BOZEMAN — Fans looking forward to Montana State going head to head with Big Sky Conference foes this spring are going to be disappointed. The Bobcats and Montana Grizzlies released a joint press release on Friday announcing that neither school would be participating in the Big Sky's spring schedule.
“I’m not sure that (University of Montana head coach Bobby Hauck) and I agree on a lot, but we agreed on this," said Montana State football head coach Jeff Choate. "We agreed that this was the right move for both of our programs and student-athletes and keeping them in the forefront.”
For the Bobcats, this decision came down to player safety.
“When you looked at the schedule and how it matched up timeline-wise with the climate that we were going to be in, the safety of our student-athletes came to the forefront and was the ultimate reason why we made this decision,” said MSU director of athletics Leon Costello.
Without an indoor practice facility to brave the current elements, MSU felt the student-athletes wouldn’t be safe playing right now,
“I can plow the snow off the turf, but that doesn’t guarantee that it’s not an ice skating rink, and we’ve been out there in those conditions before and we’ve had to pull our guys off the field because that’s something that we’re not going to do, is put them in harm's way, and we were going to have to do that repeatedly,” Choate said.
It’s not just the winter climate or COVID-19, it’s a lot to ask players to finish a spring season around May and then immediately get ready for the fall season.
“They aren’t getting the appropriate amount of time for their bodies to heal and go back into that," said Choate. "There’s a reason the offseason is set up the way it is.”
Despite not playing in the Big Sky Conference in spring, MSU has left open the option to still play a couple games this spring.
“We’re going to look around the state of Montana and see what some of the other smaller conferences are doing and see if they would want to come here and play,” Costello said.