Frontier Conference moves NAIA football schedule to spring

WHITEFISH, Mont. (AP) — The Montana schools in the NAIA Frontier Conference are moving their football schedule to the spring, league Commissioner Kent Paulson announced Thursday, two days before practice was to begin.

The league's council of presidents made the decision less than a week after the league moved its volleyball schedule to the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but reaffirmed plans for its five Montana teams to play football this fall.

The league’s teams include Carroll College, Montana State-Northern, Montana Tech, Montana Western and Rocky Mountain College in Montana, along with Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon and the College of Idaho. The Oregon and Idaho teams had already announced plans to play football in the spring.

“This announcement today will allow for all eight teams to once again operate collectively as a conference in the spring and participate in a schedule providing that safety standards allow for play,” Paulson said in a statement.

The NAIA has moved its football and volleyball championships to the spring.

“We are incredibly disappointed not only for our student athletes but for our Fighting Saints followers,” Carroll College athletic director Charlie Gross said. “A lot of preparation by the student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, and administration had gone into being ready to kick off the season with official practice this Saturday. The safety and well-being of our students and campus community are of the utmost importance. We still feel fortunate to be starting classes in person on Monday.”

At this time, Frontier Conference teams will participate in cross country and golf this fall, Paulson said.