8.1 eku football

The start of the 2020 college football season is less than a month away, but every school in the Ohio Valley Conference is still facing (or is already dealing with) the possibility of having to make significant schedule adjustments.

Nine non-conference games involving OVC teams — including three against SEC teams — have already been canceled.

Even more postponements seem likely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the country.

"Day-to-day, it certainly changes," EKU Director of Athletics Matt Roan said. "It feels like it changes hour-to-hour sometimes. There's uncertainty, but the conversations are happening, so when we have that clarity, we will know exactly what to do."

EKU has not had to make any scheduling changes — yet.

The top concern, though, surround the biggest non-conference game of the season.

The Colonels are scheduled to play West Virginia on Sept. 12 in Morgantown, W.Va.

The Big 12 is the only Power 5 Conference not to announce a plan for the 2020 football season. A meeting of league administrators is planned for Monday.

Several Big 12 school have moved up games to Aug. 29 — including Oklahoma — and Roan confirmed that EKU and West Virginia officials have considered that option.

Either way, the EKU AD says he is confident the teams will play this season.

"We are a full go for Sept. 12, but we are willing and capable of adjusting that game to Aug. 29," Roan said. "We have every expectation that we will play West Virginia. The date is the only thing that's still to be determined."

The loss of the West Virginia match-up would have a huge financial impact for EKU.

The school will receive almost half a million dollars to play in Morgantown.

"It is a significant payday," Roan said of the West Virginia game. "That $450,000 supports not only our football program, it really supports our entire athletics enterprise. The effects of losing a game like that would be felt across the board."

EKU has two other non-conference games on the 2020 schedule.

The Colonels open the season at home on Sept. 3 at Roy Kidd Stadium and travel to Youngstown State on Sept. 19.

The conferences those teams play in — the Missouri Valley (YSU) and the Southern (WCU) — have not yet announced any plans to delay or cancel football.

"We do feel very fortunate to be in the position that we are in now," Roan said. "We are confident that we are going to have a full 11-game football schedule."

Other schools have not been as fortunate.

Tennessee State has been hit the hardest by far of any OVC team.

The Tigers lost all three of their non-conference games. The Nashville-based school normally opens the season with bowl games against other HBCU's (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

In 2020, TSU was scheduled to play Southern University in the Detroit Football Classic on Sept. 5 and Jackson State at the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis (Sept. 12).

The Tigers also had to cancel a home game against Clark-Atlanta University set for Sept. 19.

“Anytime two storied HBCU programs such as Tennessee State University and Southern University are expected to play at a neutral site, there is always a high-level of anticipation and excitement. The fact that the 2020 Detroit Football Classic was canceled this year is very unfortunate," TSU Athletic Director Mikki Allen said in a statement. "However, I respect the decision that was made by Cheryl Parks Ajamu and the Ajamu Management group in relation to COVID-19.”

TSU officials stated in the same press release the school is exploring options to schedule alternative games.

Tennessee Tech has also lost two non-conference games.

The Golden Eagles were scheduled to travel to the University of Minnesota on Sept. 12, but the Big Ten announced recently it was moving to a conference-only schedule for all fall sports.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has suspended all fall sports indefinitely, forcing the cancelation of a TTU home game against North Carolina Central on Sept. 19.

OVC teams lost three high-paying match-ups with SEC schools when that league announced on Thursday it would play a conference-only schedule in 2020.

Eastern Illinois was set to play at Kentucky, UT-Martin had a game with Alabama, while SEMO was scheduled for a trip to Ole Miss.

SEMO also lost a game against Dayton on Sept. 3 at home.

Murray State was set to play at Louisville on Sept. 19, but the future of that game is uncertain. The ACC will have an 11-game schedule in 2020, which will give each team one non-conference game against an in-state opponent.

Louisville had Murray and Western Kentucky on its original schedule.

There could be many more changes, though.

The OVC has pushed back the start of fall sports — except football — to Sept. 17.

In a statement on July 22, the league said the revision of the season schedules did not include football at this time, "Due to existing contractual matters."

Those contracts have forced smaller conferences, like the OVC, to wait until the bigger leagues make their decisions.

OVC schools had six games against Power 5 schools. Five of those have already been canceled.

OVC schools also have four other games scheduled against FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) teams this year — Austin Peay at Cincinnati, UT-Martin at Memphis, Jacksonville State at Florida International and Murray State at Georgia State.

None of those conferences (American, Conference USA and the Sun Belt) have announced any plans for fall sports yet.

The remaining 12 non-conference games for OVC schools are scheduled to be against other FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) teams.

The OVC schools have five games against the Missouri Valley Conference (Indiana State at EIU, EIU at Illinois State, EKU at Youngstown State, SEMO at Southern Illinois and Southern Illinois at UT-Martin), three games against Southern Conference teams (Tennessee Tech at Samford, East Tennessee State at Austin Peay and Western Carolina at EKU) and two games against the Southland Conference (Central Arkansas vs. Austin Peay and SE Louisiana at Jacksonville State).

Jacksonville State is also set to play Northern Alabama from the Big South and Murray is scheduled for a home against against independent Tartleton State.

Several FCS conferences have announced plans to cancel or postpone fall sports — the CAA, Ivy League, SWAC, MEAC and Patriot League — but none of those affect the schedules of OVC teams.

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