PORTLAND, Ore. — The Great Northwest Athletic Conference will allow its member institutions to schedule their own events this spring for men's and women's soccer, volleyball and cross country, the league announced Friday.

The NCAA Division II GNAC, of which Montana State Billings is a member, also will not declare regular-season champions or conduct postseason championships in those sports.

“After careful review of the assorted challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to better serve the needs of its membership, the Management Council of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference has approved institutional autonomy in scheduling for the spring (of) 2021,” a press release stated.

Due to COVID-19, the GNAC voted in July to postpone the conference’s fall sports seasons. The athletic directors of the conference’s football institutions voted in September to not play a conference schedule in that sport during the 2020-21 academic year.

MSUB opted out of the league's men's and women's basketball seasons, in November.

The conference determined that its leadership councils will meet in mid-February to assess conference scheduling in the sports of baseball and softball and well as evaluate the viability of conference postseason championship events in baseball, softball, golf, outdoor track and field and rowing.

“Given our extensive footprint and the variety of local challenges related to the pandemic, the decision regarding fall sports was taken in the best interests of the student-athletes and our member institutions,” said GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund.

“Since our institutions are affected in different ways, untethering our membership from continually changing conference schedules provides the best opportunity for those seeking to provide meaningful competitive opportunities to their student-athletes to do so.”

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