MISSOULA — Following in line with nearly every major college athletic conference across the country, the Big Sky has voted to shut down all spring sports, activities and practices due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The vote to cancel all spring competitions and championships was unanimous by the Big Sky's President's Council. Campus administrators will tentatively meet again remotely on April 3 to discuss practices and workouts, which have been suspended for all league sports.
Big Sky schools will have the option to still provide "support services" for student-athletes. The release said, "These services may vary based on each institution's circumstances and can include athletic training, academics, mental health, as well as other programming that is in the best interest of supporting the student-athletes."
On Monday during a media conference call, Big Sky commissioner Tom Wistrcill said they were "24 to 48 hours" away from making a decision. Most other college conferences around the country had already voted to shut down their spring programs.
"This is undoubtedly the proper decision for the health and well-being of all involved with the Big Sky, even though it certainly is disappointing for many of our student-athletes and coaches," Wistrcill said in a release. "While play may be paused, we as a conference office and staff remain absolutely committed to supporting our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators every way possible during this unprecedented period in college athletics.
"We eagerly look forward to our teams returning to practice and competition when it's deemed safe to resume those activities."
At Montana State, the athletic department also said it would be suspending all workouts and closing the strength and conditioning facilities, including its weight rooms, and other facilities where equipment is shared and disease can spread quickly.
"Our top priority is always the health, safety, and well-being of our student-athletes," Montana State athletic director Leon Costello said in a release. "Working directly toward that goal, we want to continue to support them to the best of our abilities in the safest way possible."
He also mentioned several other steps would be taken, including more hand sanitizer in areas used by the public.
"We'll deep-clean the areas used by our student-athletes, such as the weight room, locker rooms, academic center, and athletic training and health care centers," Costello said. "We're looking at this as an opportunity to evaluate how we operate to provide the best possible environment for student-athletes, coaches, and staff while reducing the spread of COVID-19."
The University of Montana announced on Monday that it was preemptively suspending its spring sports for two weeks.