Southland Conference opts for spring college football slate

The Southland Conference has postponed football until the spring but will allow its members to play nonconference games this fall if they wish.

Southland Conference commissioner Tom Burnett said in a statement Thursday that he was disappointed, but "we look forward to a unique spring season of athletics that also includes NCAA postseason opportunities."

The FCS playoffs will not be played this fall after coming up short of the 50% requirement of teams to participate. The CAA, Ivy League, MEAC, Northeast, Patriot League and SWAC have all announced they will not play in the fall.

"After thoughtful consideration, the Southland Conference Board of Directors reached consensus in postponing league competition for our fall semester sports," University of Central Arkansas president Houston Davis, the board chairman, said in a statement. "Protecting competitive opportunities in a safe manner for our student-athletes was paramount in the review, and a delay to the spring allows campuses and athletic departments to get a better handle on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Central Arkansas athletic director Brad Teague said his football program still intends to play a "reduced schedule" this fall, working with the Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Southern and Big South conferences to formulate a schedule. The team currently intends to play its scheduled opener Aug. 29 against Austin Peay, and a game at Arkansas State.

"We are confident we can do this safely and provide a healthy space for them all," Teague said in a statement.

Houston Baptist also plans honor its existing contracts to play nonconference games against North Texas, Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech.

"While not unexpected, it is still a sad day for our fall sport student-athletes," HBU athletic director Steve Moniaci said. "We are taking measures to ensure they can compete safely in a limited capacity this fall and be prepared should the league resume play and reschedule the championships for the spring."

Southland Conference presidents also authorized planning for spring semester championship events for volleyball, soccer and cross country, while allowing schools to participate in limited fall competition if they choose to do so.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.