The last top-level Division I conference has rejoined the fall 2020 football season: the Mid-American Conference (MAC) will resume football in November.
With the coronavirus pandemic persisting into the late summer and early fall, 4 of the 10 conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, the highest level of collegiate football in the NCAA) elected to postpone their fall football seasons. That included the Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC.
Many expected the remaining six to follow at some point. But with the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Sun Belt, AAC, and Conference-USA conducting football seasons this fall, the four canceling conferences have one-by-one begun to return to the fall season.
The Big Ten announced an 8-game season beginning on October 24. The Pac-12 soon followed with a 7-game season beginning on November 6. This morning, the Mountain West rejoined the fray, and the MAC announced this afternoon that its presidents had voted to resume the season. Here’s what the recently-announced seasons will look like:
- Big Ten (October 24 – 8 game season)
- Pac-12 (November 6th – 7 game season)
- Mountain West (October 24 – 8 game season)
- MAC (November 4 – 6 game season)
The MAC will hold a conference championship game on December 18 or 19.
Football decisions have major impacts on college swimming & diving in two ways. First, the timeline of fall sports like football impacts the potential start dates for winter sports like swimming & diving. The Big Ten, for example, has already ruled that swimming will not start competition until at least January 1. The Pac-12 has left that decision in the hands of individual schools based on local coronavirus numbers. The SEC has announced that swim teams can begin their seasons on October 1, but with competition almost entirely restricted to dual meets only.
Secondly, the loss of football revenues has created major budget difficulties for a number of colleges. Iowa cited the loss of more than $100 million in revenue when it eliminated women’s and men’s swimming & diving this year. Experts estimate that the return of football could help schools recoup somewhere between two-thirds and 80% of that lost revenue, though the pandemic is still leaving most schools in difficult financial situations with or without football.