COVID-19 is having a huge impact on the college football world. While some power conferences, including the SEC, appear ready to play this fall in some capacity, smaller ones like the MAC will have to make significant changes.
We've already seen some big changes in MAC athletic departments. On Thursday, league member Akron announced it would shed three sports: men's golf, men's cross country, and women's tennis. It is brutal news for athletes in those sports, as it doesn't sound like Akron will honor those scholarships.
MAC football is looking for ways to cut back as well. According to multiple reports, the league is reducing the size of travel rosters from 76 players down to 70. Perhaps more impactfully, teams won't be staying in hotels the night before home games.
Most teams are put up in hotels, even before home games, to cut down on distractions the nights before games. Nick Piotrowicz of The Bladein Toledo was the first to report the changes. Per his article, the practice has been criticized by faculty members at league schools in the past, making it a relatively easy thing to focus on for administrators.
Per Bruce Feldman, "several coaches" are worried about the impact that this will have on their players when playing at home.
This is just the latest change the MAC has announced. Among the other significant moves is the cancellation of eight of the league's post-season tournaments, starting this fall and lasting at least five years.
There will be no MAC tournament for men's or women's soccer, baseball, softball, men's or women's tennis, women's lacrosse, and women's field hockey. The recipient of the conference's NCAA tournament bid in those eight sports will be determined by the regular season.
The MAC also cut back on postseason tournaments for other sports, including basketball. The new format for the MAC tournament will be exclusive by featuring the top eight finishers instead of all 12.
The league eliminated the first round of the conference basketball tournament — which was played on the campus of the higher seed — and will send all eight quarterfinalists straight to Cleveland to begin play.
The women's volleyball tournament now will feature only four teams instead of eight. Other changes include: the swimming and diving championships will take place on three days instead of four; the golf championships will be two days instead of three; and the outdoor track and field championships, previously held across three days, will now join indoor track as a two-day event.
Hopefully this will help curb the full-on cancellation of programs in the league, thereby reducing the athletic opportunities for athletes across the country as a whole, but this probably won't be the only league taking drastic measures.