Montana State University announced on Friday that the Bobcats will not participate in the 2021 Big Sky Conference spring championship season. According to a press release, the University of Montana will also not play. Both schools will, however, play a modified non-conference schedule.

Montana State University President Dr. Waded Cruzado and University of Montana President Seth Bodnar made a joint decision saying that student-athletes' health and safety was their primary concern for not taking part in the spring season.

“The safety of our students is always our No. 1 priority at Montana State,” Cruzado said. “This decision was difficult, but it will help ensure our student-athletes are as safe and healthy as possible when they do take to the field again. We are proud of their hard work and look forward to cheering them on.”

The Big Sky spring season, which was put together after the regular fall season was canceled due to COVID-19, was set to begin on February 27th.

The Bobcats will now look to put together a couple of spring games that may look more like their traditional spring practice period. Opponents and exact dates are still to be determined.

Both Montana schools now look to develop a slate that allows each team to schedule up to two live competitions, falling in line more closely with the traditional spring practice period. Opponents and exact dates are still to be determined.

Montana State University President Dr. Waded Cruzado and University of Montana President Seth Bodnar made the joint decision with student-athletes' health and safety as their primary concern for not participating in a full spring season.

“The safety of our students is always our No. 1 priority at Montana State,” Cruzado said. “This decision was difficult, but it will help ensure our student-athletes are as safe and healthy as possible when they do take to the field again. We are proud of their hard work and look forward to cheering them on.”

Bodnar said, “Throughout the pandemic, we have made decisions in the best interest of the students. After much discussion with the athletic directors and coaches at both schools, we feel this decision allows our student-athletes to compete with adequate time to prepare."

MSU Athletic Director Leon Costello pointed out that, in addition to safety concerns, the spring season could impact a successful fall 2021 season.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is paramount,” Costello said. “The timeline for our football student-athletes to be physically prepared for the current conference schedule can’t be guaranteed given our climate and related circumstances.  By altering our spring season, we will be able to focus on their physical training during the appropriate conditions and proper recovery for the fall season.”

Joining the Cats & Grizzlies in not playing the Big Sky fall schedule is Portland State. Sacramento State announced in the fall that they would not participate in the entire 2021 spring season.

“This has been a trying year for everyone,” said Bobcat head coach Jeff Choate. “We respect the fact that each institution is in a different place in its ability to practice, compete, and meet testing protocols. Here in Montana we’re uniquely challenged in keeping our student-athletes safe and healthy, which is our top priority, while preparing and playing in deep winter conditions. This is nearly impossible to accomplish given the Big Sky Conference schedule timeline.  Finding a way to compete in some fashion when circumstances allow remains important to me and our administration.”