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'Time is of the essence': MAC expects to decide on football by Monday

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The Mid-American Conference is expected to make a decision within a week about reinstating fall football.

Central Michigan president Bob Davies revealed the timeline, saying an announcement should come by Monday, and acknowledged, "We know time is of the essence."

CMU coach Jim McElwain.

The MAC remains one of three Football Bowl Subdivision conferences still without a fall football season, though all three, including the Pac-12 and Mountain West, are revisiting their plans.

MAC presidents met Saturday to discuss the issue, and look over updated medical date, but didn't vote.

"The presidents are focusing on the testing and protocols, and do we all ensure the safety of our student athletes, our coaches, as well as the community and university," Davies said Tuesday. 

"We're looking at the possibilities."

Davies said if the MAC does play fall football, there will no fans in the stands.

The Big Ten reversed course last Wednesday and reinstated fall football, a decision that was immediately followed by a statement from the MAC commissioner than the conference would continue to focus on a possible spring season.

But by Wednesday night, athletic directors were talking to each other and pushing commissioner Jon Steinbrecher to at least entertain the idea of a reversal.

Several MAC coaches and athletes — Western Michigan's football players released a joint statement making their case to play — have been outspoken over the last week.

If the MAC does decide to play — and either way, the conference schools will be out millions, with none of the big-payday nonconference games — it's expected to follow many of the guidelines that the Big Ten installed, including strict sit-out protocols and regular testing.

The Big Ten will test every football player daily, starting Sept. 30; the MAC won't be able to do that.

Davies acknowledged acquiring the amount of rapid tests needed is one barrier.

"We will have to be assured that we have the testing capacity and materials," Davies said.

The MAC announced Aug. 8 it was postponing fall sports, including football, making it the first Football Bowl Subdivision conference to do so. Three days later, the Big Ten became the first Power Five conference to announce a postponed season.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984