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University of Idaho hasn’t given up on nonconference football this fall

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 7, 2020

Idaho quarterback Mason Perino (8) carries the ball during a game against Eastern Washington University on Sept. 21, 2019 at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.   (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
Idaho quarterback Mason Perino (8) carries the ball during a game against Eastern Washington University on Sept. 21, 2019 at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.  (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
By Peter Harriman For The Spokesman-Review

While Presidents of Big Sky Conference schools have voted to move the league football schedule to the spring, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Idaho is still trying to pull together a nonconference football schedule of a handful of games for the fall.

UI believes it can manage the COVID-19 risk.

“Our testing here at the University of Idaho is set up to meet or exceed the recommendations provided by the NCAA. Pending further review, we will be exploring the option of playing nonconference games this fall. We look forward to releasing more information as it becomes available,” UI athletics director Terry Gawlik said Friday.

The effort runs counter to the Big Sky’s acknowledgment that trying to play football in the pandemic was impossible.

“The last few days we realized we couldn’t safely pull off football the way we wanted it,” Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrcill said Friday.

“We understand the decision made by the Big Sky Conference Presidents,” said Gawlik. “It was an incredibly difficult decision that was made with the best interests of the student-athletes in mind for the conference as a whole. Moving the Big Sky Conference football season to the spring hopefully affords our league partners more time to prepare and fine tune their health and safety precautions.”

Idaho had already lost scheduled nonconference games against Western Oregon and Washington State before the presidents voted to move football to the spring.

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference, of which Western Oregon is a member, decided not to play football this fall, and the Pac-12, including WSU, reduced its season to conference-only games.

Whether UI can find alternative opponents to play this fall could be determined as soon as next week, when Gawlik and Vandals coach Paul Petrino may address the state of the season. Vandals players are scheduled to report for preseason camp Aug. 14.

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