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Pioneer Football League Opts Out of Playing a Fall 2020 Season

Pioneer Football League Opts Out of Playing a Fall 2020 Season

The Pioneer Football League's (PFL) Presidents Council has announced that the league's schools — which includes San Diego — will not conduct conference competition this fall. The PFL membership is spread from coast-to-coast and throughout the Midwest which poses challenges related to team travel, as well as difficulties meeting applicable state, local and institutional health requirements and COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

"The presidents and athletic directors of our respective universities made this very difficult decision after extensive deliberations and consideration of many factors. We recognize that our student-athletes will be disappointed, but our highest priority is the health and safety of all those involved in our athletic programs. Ultimately, the risks of proceeding are simply too high especially to ensure the safety of our students,” said James M. Danko, president of Butler University and chair of the PFL.

San Diego Executive Director of Athletics Bill McGillis reacted to the decision in a prepared statement.

“I deeply regret that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our football team will not be able to compete for another championship this fall,” he said. “While there were many contributing factors unique to the Pioneer Football League, including the geographical reality and challenges of the nine member schools being located in eight different states and the associated travel that cannot be avoided, the principal reason this decision was made is that there is simply too much uncertainty at this time related to our ability to effectively safeguard the health of our scholar-athletes and staff in the sport of football.  That's the bottom line.”

Recognizing competition is an integral part of the student-athlete's educational experience, the PFL is committed to exploring meaningful opportunities and experiences for football student-athletes this academic year, if this can be done reasonably and safely.

"If there is favorable change related to COVID-19, and if we are confident that we can protect the health and safety of all involved, we will fully explore competing in football during the spring semester,” McGillis said. “I want that for our players if the environment on campus, in San Diego County and nationally will permit, and we will advocate aggressively that FCS football, including the national playoffs and championship, should move to the spring. Obviously, this is a very difficult time for our guys — as it is for so many people in our community — and we will need to support these young men in every way possible.  Likewise for our outstanding group of football coaches.”

Dale Lindsey, USD’s head football coach since the 2013 season, fully understands the PFL’s decision.

"Although we are saddened by not competing in the fall 2020 football season, we are in complete agreement with the presidents and athletic directors that the correct decision has been made for all schools, players and coaches. We look forward to the day when we can resume full competition."

USD, the third-winningest FCS program in the last decade, were aiming to continue the nation's longest active conference winning streak this fall (37 games) and reach the FCS Playoffs for the fifth year in a row. The Toreros have won the PFL championship in each of the last six years and 11 times overall.

"Make no mistake, we have one of the truly great college football programs in the country, and we will emerge from the challenges of this pandemic stronger than ever before,” McGillis said. “Winning in the classroom, winning on the playing field and winning in the community will remain staples of Torero football.”

— USD Athletics

The health and safety of the Pioneer Football League teams has led to a decision to not play the 2020 football season this fall. The decision was made by the PFL's Presidents Council this week.The health and safety of the Pioneer Football League teams has led to a decision to not play the 2020 football season this fall. The decision was made by the PFL's Presidents Council this week.

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