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Big Sky officially moves football season to spring of 2021; 33 former local high school players impacted by decision

The conference's Presidents’ Council met on Thursday and voted to move forward in this manner, citing continued concerns related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

FARMINGTON, Utah — The Big Sky Conference has officially shifted the 2020 football season originally schedule for this fall to the spring of 2021.

The conference's Presidents’ Council met on Thursday and voted to move forward in this manner, citing continued concerns related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

"The health and safety of our students is our top priority, and ultimately that concern guided our decision-making process over the past few months as we explored every option regarding the 2020 football season,” said Andy Feinstein, president of the University of Northern Colorado and chair of the Big Sky Presidents’ Council. "We recognize just how meaningful these opportunities are to the student-athletes, coaches, and staff throughout our conference, and empathize that they won’t be able to compete this fall for a Big Sky championship. We are eager to provide our football programs with that opportunity in the spring when it’s hopefully safer to be able to do so."

The move impacts 33 football players that once starred at 20 different high schools in the KTVB viewing area. The list includes eight alumni from Rocky Mountain, four from Mountain View, and two from Bishop Kelly, Borah, and Eagle.

There is at least one local alumnus rostered on seven of the 13 total teams in the Big Sky. Idaho State leads the way with 13, followed Idaho and Weber State with six, Eastern Washington and Montana State with three apiece.

Big Sky Conference Commissioner Tom Wistrcill says the league also fully supports the NCAA moving the FCS Championships to the spring.

"This is the right decision for our member institutions, even though we realize how disappointing it will be for all who represent and care about Big Sky football," Tom Wistrcill said. “We will now shift our attention to doing everything within our power to provide our football student-athletes and coaches with a conference schedule and a championship opportunity in the spring. We already have begun actively engaging our fellow FCS conferences and the NCAA to join us then for what will be a unique opportunity to return to competition and compete for an FCS championship."

The league is still evaluating what to do with non-conference play. For example, Idaho is scheduled to kickoff at Temple, an FBS opponent from the American Athletic Conference (AAC), on Sept. 12. The AAC recently announced that their member schools are allowed to play up to four non-conference games.

"Our testing here at the University of Idaho is set up to meet or exceed the recommendations provided by the NCAA," Idaho Director of Athletics Terry Gawlik said. "Pending further review, we will be exploring the opinion of playing non-conference games this fall. We look forward to releasing more information as it becomes available."

While those decisions are still being processed, the Big Sky says the members of their league can continue with permissible athletic activities, as long as they abide by NCAA legislation, campus policies, and local and state regulations.

RELATED: Idaho High School Activities Association announces return-to-play plans for fall

RELATED: 2020 Treasure Valley College commitments

EASTERN WASHINGTON (3)

DB - Calin Criner, R-SR (Rocky Mountain)

QB - Shane Jennings, FR (Dietrich)

DB - Tamir Hill, R-SR (Rocky Mountain)

IDAHO (6)

RB - Nick Romano, SO (Rocky Mountain)

DB - Ryan Swanson, R-JR (Eagle)

RB - Khalil Forehand, R-SO (Bishop Kelly)

OL - Luke Nemec, R-SO (Boise)

OL - Kevin Eldredge, SO (Mountain View)

OL - Nick Woods, SO (New Plymouth)

IDAHO STATE (13)

WR - Demonte Horton, SO (Skyview)

S - Quade Renfro, FR (Horseshoe Bend)

LB - Kennon Smith, SR (Fruitland)

S - Braden Cureton, FR (Rocky Mountain)

LB - Jake Piscone, FR (Rocky Mountain)

S - Zach Wright, JR (Kimberly)

LB - Jared Gibson, SO (Mountain View)

LB - DJ Hagler, JR (Middleton)

OL - Jake Wilkerson, JR (Rocky Mountain)

DL - Mason Harwood, FR (Minico)

WR - Caden Clark, R-FR (Centennial)

TE - Mike Davis, SO (Columbia)

DL - Jake McGinnis, FR (Gooding)

MONTANA (1)

TE - Joey Elwell, SO (Mountain View)

MONTANA STATE (3)

QB - Tucker Rovig, R-JR (Mountain View)

OL - Zach Redd, R-JR (Rocky Mountain)

OL - Connor Wood, R-JR (Rocky Mountain)

UC DAVIS (1)

QB - Lan Larison, FR (Vallivue)

WEBER STATE (6)

DE - Raoul Johnson, R-JR (Bishop Kelly)

LB - Mitchel Maxfield, R-FR (Emmett)

DE - George Tarlas, R-JR (Borah)

LB - Kalvin Stewart, R-LB (Eagle)

K/P - Hayden Cowden, JR (Twin Falls)

OL - George Barrera, R-SO (Borah)

There are no local players rostered at Cal Poly, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State, or Southern Utah.

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