MIAA delays start of fall sports

Rick Peterson Jr.
rpeterson@dailynews.net
Fort Hays State University wide receiver Manny Ramsey takes the ball upfield against Emporia State during a game last season at Lewis Field Stadium in Hays.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The MIAA announced plans Monday to delay the start of the fall sports season.

Practices won’t begin until the week of Aug. 31, and fall competition won’t start until the week of Sept. 28.

"This plan allows our student-athletes to get back on campus and get acclimated with the student body before we begin practices and fall competition," MIAA commissioner Mike Racy said in a news release. "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 MIAA said the plan “will allow member universities to continue to monitor the COVID-19 Global Health Pandemic, and to make decisions about athletics and other campus activities based on conditions in that community and with guidance from local and state health officials.”

“(The delayed start) is giving us an opportunity to make sure we’ve explored every viable option,” FHSU athletic director Curtis Hammeke told The HDN. “Other conferences have gone ahead and canceled the fall. We’re trying to make sure before any of that type of action takes place that we’ve explored everything thoroughly.”

The MIAA will not remake fall schedules. The first competition date listed on or following Sept. 28 will be the first of the season for FHSU fall sports governed by the MIAA. There are no schedule adjustments yet for men's soccer, as the Great American Conference governs the sport.

As it stands now, the MIAA football season will consist of seven games for each team.

Fort Hays State’s first football game is now scheduled for Oct. 3 against Central Missouri at Lewis Field Stadium. That game is also set to be Homecoming for the Tigers.

Under the new plan, FHSU will see a home game against Lincoln and road games at Northwest Missouri and Missouri Western eliminated because of the pushed back start date.

“Everything just has to be in perspective,” Hammeke said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of disappointment involved for a lot of people — coaches, athletes, the community. We just have to, at this point in time, keep it all in perspective and make the best out of a tough situation.”

The MIAA said its CEO Council supported the recommendation to delay the start of practices and the season, but acknowledged the new plan is contingent on “students, employees and fans demonstrating socially responsible behavior during this public health crisis. In addition, it is important that student-athletes continue to practice socially responsible behavior to help protect the health of the team.”

Restrictions and limitations on student-athlete and coach activities prior to the Aug. 31 start of MIAA practices will be announced soon.

“The health and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and communities in the MIAA continues to be the Association's top priority,” the MIAA release read. “The MIAA is taking these unprecedented actions to help our campuses and communities continue to address this public health crisis.”

Fort Hays State’s Tiger Auction, which has now been moved to an online format, is set for next month. Bidding for the online auction will start on Monday, Aug. 17 at 9 a.m. and last until Friday, Aug. 28 at 9 p.m. FHSU Athletics will host a live event on Zoom, Saturday, Aug. 22 to go along with the online auction.

More information on the Tiger Auction can be found at www.tigerauction.org.

Check hdnews.net and Wednesday’s print edition for more reaction from Hammeke and FHSU football coach Chris Brown on the MIAA’s new plan.