CARBONDALE — The first match of the season for the SIU women's soccer team this year will be even more historic after the Missouri Valley Conference Presidents Council announced Monday it had voted to delay the start of the 2020-21 fall season.
The Salukis, who are scheduled to compete in the MVC for the first time in only the program's second year of existence, will now open the season at home against conference member Valparaiso Sept. 18. The Valley pushed fall schedules for cross country, golf, soccer, tennis (SIU doesn't have a tennis team) and volleyball until Sept. 18 because of concerns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus. The non-championship fall seasons for baseball and softball will also have to wait until mid-September to start.
Fall teams in MVC-sponsored sports may now not even begin practicing until Aug. 17. SIU's women's soccer team was scheduled to start preparing for this season the first week of August, with exhibition matches scheduled before the middle of the month. The announcement does not affect Saluki Football, which competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and is scheduled to begin practicing for its 2020 season Friday.
The SIU women's soccer and volleyball teams will now only play conference matches in 2020-21. The volleyball team now opens the 2020 season at Missouri State Sept. 25. The cross country teams' first event is now Oct. 3 at the Gans Creek Classic in Columbia, Missouri. The women's golf team will now open the season Sept. 21-22 in Greenville, North Carolina, with the Pirate Collegiate Classic.
The conference championships are still on schedule, according to the news release from the league. SIU is scheduled to host the women's swimming and diving championship Feb. 18-20, 2021, at the Shea Natatorium inside the SIU Rec Center. The Salukis won bids to host three spring championships, the baseball tournament May 26-29 at Jones Stadium, the outdoor track and field championship at Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex May 14-16, and the women's golf tournament in Missouri in April.
Men's and women's basketball and the league's spring sports are still on schedule as of today. The league said it would continue to monitor national developments and could take further action on its 2020-21 sports calendar.
The Ohio Valley Conference made a similar move with its fall sports earlier this month. The Big 10, Pac-12 and Big East have all gone to conference-only competition with their fall sports. The SEC and ACC delayed their fall sports until at least Sept. 1.
The Ivy League, Patriot League and MEAC have already called off their fall sport schedules, including football. The Pioneer League, a non-scholarship football conference, announced earlier this month it would play only conference games this fall. The MVFC has not announced any delay to its 2020 schedule, yet, and put out a statement Monday that "patience is warranted regarding any decision to modify the 2020 fall season." Valley Football Media Days are scheduled for Aug. 3 and 4.
Missouri State athletic director Kyle Moats, the Valley Football rep on the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee, told the Springfield (Missouri) News-Leader the league would not make any decision about changing its 2020 schedule until after the Big 12, and other leagues, made their intentions clear for the upcoming season. Moats is set to be the chair of the football championship committee this year.
Missouri State has a high-payday game scheduled at Oklahoma this year.
SIU, which lost its scheduled game at Wisconsin when the Big 10 announced its football teams would only play conference games, added Kansas to the 2020 schedule on Saturday. The Wisconsin game would have paid the Salukis $500,000. Kansas has pledged $300,000 to play SIU, but will not owe anything if the game is canceled.
On Twitter: @THefferman
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