A series of events on Thursday wiped out Air Force's remaining fall sports.
First, in a morning announcement the Western Athletic Conference canceled its fall sports because of the coronavirus. The Falcons' men's soccer team plays as a member of the WAC.
That left only the Air Force men's water polo team, as the Mountain West's cancellation of the fall season on Monday had already nixed the fall for the football, volleyball and several other teams.
Then, the NCAA canceled fall sports championships on Thursday afternoon. Though the Western Water Polo Association, home to Air Force's team, has not made an official announcement on the status of its season, the Falcons said they will not be playing.
The NCAA's decision impacts men's and women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball, and men's water polo. The College Football Playoff presides over the the Football Bowl Subdivision's championship, so that would not be impacted. The Football Championship Subdivision, however, will not hold playoffs this year.
Air Force is still exploring possibilities of playing service academy games in fall sports, but no updates on that progress have been given.
The next question will be the start of the winter sports, which Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson addressed in a question-and-answer video released by the Colorado Springs-based conference on Thursday.
“At this point we’re still targeting a November start,” Thompson said for sports like men’s and women’s basketball, which would open practice in about a month and a half.
Thompson said he hoped for a decision for winter sports by late September to allow for an on-time start of practice. But the past few weeks have also shown the uncertainty of any time frames or decisions.
On Aug. 5, the Mountain West announced a delay to the start of the fall season. Five days later, it canceled it.
Thompson didn’t offer a specific reason for the abrupt switch aside from citing the “continued unknown” and referencing information learned about cardiac conditions and various studies tied to COVID-19.
Air Force’s football team was set to hold its first practice on Aug. 7 but delayed it until Monday. The Falcons completed that first practice before learning of the Mountain West’s decision. All academy teams have now resumed off-season training and workouts but are not holding official, in-season practices.
The Mountain West’s wait-and-see approach to winter sports is different than the Pac-12, which canceled all competition prior to Jan. 1. That likely wipes out Air Force women’s basketball games against Colorado and Stanford. The Falcons men’s basketball team did not have a Pac-12 team on the schedule.
As for the potential of a spring football season, Thompson said playing at that point on the calendar would be “feasible.” Any potential format to the season, however, would need to wait until the fall season plays out. As of now, six of the 10 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision conferences intend to play football in the fall.
“We have to see who is willing and able to play in the spring,” Thompson said.