BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – Mountain East Conference Commissioner Reid Amos spoke with the 12 SportsZone on Friday about the status of the conference, how it’s been using social media during the COVID-19 pandemic, and when he thinks college sports will return.
Part of the conversation also centered around the recent loss of Urbana University, which on Tuesday announced it will be permanently closing its doors at the conclusion of the spring semester.
“An Ohio presence for our conference is something that we value greatly. To lose Urbana University is saddening to all of us. But it’s the reality of the impact that this pandemic is having economically,” Amos said.
Urbana closing down now leaves Notre Dame College as the MEC’s only Ohio-based member.
The exit of the Blue Knights also leaves the Mountain East Conference with eleven members, adding a bit of uncertainty in this strange time, and taking away a source of competition and revenue for when sports world returns to spinning from COVID-19.
“Of course there’s an impact. The Mountain East Conference has been a 12-member conference since its founding in 2013. 12 is a very good number from a scheduling standpoint. We would certainly prefer to be at that number. But for 2020-2021, and the realities that we’re facing, we’re expecting that there’s likely going to be a cut to the maximum number of contests,” Amos said.
Amos was acting as the NCAA site representative at the men’s basketball Atlantic Regional at West Liberty in March when the sports world stopped spinning. Winter sports tournaments and spring sports seasons were canceled completely in the coming days – a prelude to what the rest of the world would see over the coming weeks and months.
“When the announcement was made that, not only winter, but spring championships as of March 12 were already going to be canceled, that really put into perspective what we were all going to be facing.”Mountain East Conference Commissioner Reid Amos
The MEC has been keeping its conference members, its players, and its fans engaged during this time where no sports are played on social media.
They’ve done virtual roll calls, where one-by-one teams tweet out a highlight from any sport this year, and have asked athletes to share their stories to the conference’s ‘Your Stories‘ page on its website.
“Right now, having a focus on emerging from this pandemic, and hopefully having the opportunity to play sports again in the not too distant future, is what we’re all focused on. And we’re hoping the continuing effort from a social media stand point can give them some hope that there’s some light at the end of this tunnel,” said Amos.
One positive result from spring sports seasons being canceled is that the NCAA has grated its athletes an extra year of eligibility so they still have the opportunity to play four seasons. We asked Amos if, from his perspective, it was an easy decision for the NCAA to grant its athletes that waiver.
“I believe it was a relatively easy decision. So to do anything other than to provide them with the opportunity to extend their careers by a year, I think didn’t make any sense to do anything but provide that relief,” Amos said.
And while Amos says that the Mountain East Conference is working off up to five different scenarios of how it could return to the field either on time, or even not until the spring semester – with all of its sports playing at practically the same time -, he believes that high schools could be the ones paving the way to return the sports world to normalcy.
The rationale behind that being that high schools are not only all in the same state (unlike the MEC which has members in three different states), but that also means it only has one state government overseeing it, whereas MEC members would be dependent upon getting the OK from government officials in three states.
As of now, some MEC football schools are scheduled to begin their seasons on Thursday, Sept. 3, while the rest of the conference will begin the following weekend.
But that’s only if seasons start on time.