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What’s next for Lamar football, fall sports after Southland Conference postpones league contests

The Southland Conference has postponed league contests for fall sports including football.

The conference on Thursday announced the decision from the Board of Directors that intra-league competition in football, volleyball, women’s soccer and cross country would be postponed for the fall semester “with an intent to explore conference competition in the spring semester.”

The 13 universities may choose to participate in limited fall competition, the conference announced. It is unclear, however, whether Lamar University will proceed with its lone non-conference game against Rice University, scheduled for Sept. 26 in Houston.

Lamar sports information director James Dixon said the university is exploring opportunities for a limited fall schedule, but he did not confirm whether Lamar vs. Rice would remain on schedule.

Blane Morgan’s first season as Lamar’s head football coach will either begin with the Rice game or wait until the spring semester at the earliest. Lamar was most recently scheduled to begin its season Sept. 12 at home against the University of the Incarnate Word, a Southland opponent.

“While LU supports this decision, there is a profound sadness and disappointment for our fall sports student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Lamar athletic director Marco Born said in a statement on LamarCardinals.com. “We understand just how much our coaches and student-athletes wanted to resume competition this fall. Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and athletic support staff.

“These are completely unique and unprecedented times. Regardless, as a LU family, we will continue to serve, support and prioritize our student-athletes in all we do and we are committed to a safe return to competition for all our varsity sports.”

University of Central Arkansas athletic director Brad Teague announced on his department’s Facebook page it was working with schools from the Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Southern and Big South conferences to field fall schedules.

“We are confident we can do this safely and provide a healthy space for them all,” Teague said.

UCA President and Southland board chair Dr. Houston Davis said the board reached a consensus in postponing fall league competition.

“Protecting competitive opportunities in a safe manner for our student-athletes was paramount in the review, and a delay to the spring allows campuses and athletic departments to get a better handle on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Davis said.

Southland commissioner Tom Burnett said a postponement to spring could give teams “important opportunities” they seek annually.

“While disappointed that we won’t be playing these sports in the Southland’s 58th year of fall competition, we look forward to a unique spring season of athletics that also includes NCAA postseason opportunities,” Burnett said.

Southland officials expect to begin working with athletic directors on planning for spring events including championships in volleyball, soccer, cross country and other issues.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues and exploring fall sport competitions occurring later in the academic year,” Born said. “Our focus now will be on the continued support of our student-athletes’ academic success, physical and mental health and overall well-being.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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