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MIAA pushes back beginning of fall sports

Brandon Zenner
St. Joseph News-Press

The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association will delay the start of all practices and competition by multiple weeks, the conference announced Monday.

The MIAA announced a plan to push back the beginning of athletic practices until the week of Aug. 31 with competition taking place beginning the week of Sept. 28.

The MIAA will begin the fall slate beginning Sept. 28, simply removing any competition scheduled before that date. In football, that will eliminate three of the 10 games scheduled. The volleyball and women's soccer programs at Northwest Missouri State and Missouri Western were each scheduled to play four of their 20 games during the period.

The MIAA COVID-19 Task Force could also explore moving any games missed or moving competition to the spring semester if the NCAA announces changes in the coming weeks.

Ahead of the Aug. 31 start date, restrictions and limitations on activities between coaches and student-athletes will be set in place and announced at a later date.

"This plan allows our student-athletes to get back on campus and get acclimated with the student body before we begin practices and competition," MIAA Commissioner Mike Racy said. "We remain hopeful that the MIAA student-athletes will be able to practice and compete this fall, but we need to be patient and make sure that we are doing that in a healthy and safe environment for our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators."

The announcement comes weeks after the MIAA was forced to redo schedules for most of its sponsored sports in response to a reduction of games at the Division II level amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In football, the opening weekend was pushed back one week to Sept. 12, though Monday's announcement would further push back the season to an Oct. 3 start date. All MIAA football programs are scheduled at three games during the time period that is now off-limits for competition.