If NCAA Division II college football teams in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference decide to play in the spring, it won’t be for a conference championship.
After the NCAA Division II Presidents Council canceled fall championship events Aug. 5 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the RMAC postponed fall seasons for football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball to the spring semester. But the RMAC provided no clear protocol for how a spring season would take place.
The RMAC Presidents Council met again this week to talk details, and it was determined any spring football games would not count toward a conference championship. That means any games that are played will essentially be exhibitions.
“After the difficult decision last week by the (RMAC Presidents Council) to move fall team sports to the spring, and following consultation with football coaches and athletic administrators, it became clear that many factors would interfere with the conduct of a true championship season,” RMAC Commissioner Chris Graham said in a news release. “The removal of the championship structure in the spring will allow our programs to independently administer seasons in a way that fits individual opportunities and interests.”
The RMAC has 15 member institutions and 10 that play football, including Fort Lewis College in Durango. According to Friday afternoon’s news release, it will be up to each member school to determine whether it will schedule any football games in the spring. Games can include conference and non-conference opponents.
FLC athletic director Brandon Leimbach said the Skyhawks will look to take advantage of the spring and use it for development of the team under first-year head coach Darrius G. Smith. He said FLC will look to schedule up to four games against RMAC opponents that make the most sense from a geographical perspective to avoid overnight travel.
“Although COVID has thrown us a bunch of curve balls, we are excited to get some game experience under our first-year head coach, as we eagerly look forward to returning to a competitive fall 2021 season,” Leimbach said in a message to The Durango Herald.
Leimbach said the conference would support its member schools and assign referees for spring games.
Smith said he will have his team prepared to play if FLC president Tom Stritikus and Leimbach give the Skyhawks approval and a schedule to play. Smith said he has had talks with several other RMAC coaches about various formats for spring games.
“I follow and trust the leadership of my president and our administration,” Smith said. “If there is a safe environment to put players on the field and allow them to play football, I want to be able to play. We have started talking about some fall practices. We are going to attack it as if we are playing. It is my job to get the team ready so that when our president and (Leimbach) say, ‘OK, we have a schedule and a format for you, are you guys ready?’ I want to be ready to honestly say, ‘Yes. Where and when?’”
No further plan has yet to be announced regarding spring seasons for soccer and volleyball.