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Football, basketball to play in conference games

UNK football keeps bowl hopes alive with win

UNK officials announced that the football team will play a limited schedule of four live games this fall. The news follows a canceled conference schedule and comes as the MIAA’s board of CEOs announces plans for winter and spring sports.

The football schedule will consist of 2 conference schools and 2 conference schools, resurrecting the rivalry between UNK and Chadron State.

“Last year at the convention, the NCAA convention, [Chadron’s athletic director] came up to me and said if you guys ever get a non conference game, we want to play,” said Marc Bauer, UNK’s athletic director. “You know most of our teams are nearly two thirds Nebraska kids, and it’s good competition.”

Players agree with his sentiment.

“I’m really excited to play against Chadron State,” said senior safety Blake Bubak. “I know the Lopers and the Eagles haven’t played since like 2011. I know it was a big rivalry back in the day, so it’ll be interesting to see the competition they bring.”

South Dakota School of Mines joins Chadron as the other RMAC team on UNK’s schedule this fall, with Pittsburgh State and Missouri Western joining from the MIAA.

The MIAA also announced last week that individual schools could explore up to “four joint practices, scrimmages, or games with outside competition or other MIAA members” come springtime according to their Oct. 1 press release. This reaffirmed their decision earlier in the year not to have a formal schedule for football.

This decision may make spring scheduling difficult.

“Everybody’s kind of jockeying around for home games,” Bauer said. “We have 14 sports to cram— all into second semester. There’s still some concern about fitting [volleyball] in, because one, we have to have facility availability, and two, we have to have the personnel or the staff to make sure we can get it done.”

A decision on women’s fall sports for the spring has been pushed back to later this fall as discussions of logistics continue to take place. As for wrestling and track and field, sports which typically form their own schedules, decisions are being left to individual universities. 

Meanwhile, winter basketball practices starting Oct. 15 and the first game will take place Nov. 19. 

Exemption games prior to the start of the season are still a possibility, but cross-conference policy differences may stand in the way of that.

“An exemption would be something that doesn’t count against the record or towards the  total number of games that they actually apply to, so it’s kind of like an exhibition game,” Bauer said. “Okay, so that would open the door for us to, before we start playing our conference schedule, play a Hastings or a Doane or a Midland. Again, brings up concerns because the NAIA schools that typically are exemption games are not testing like we’re testing.”

Other concerns around basketball are arising from recently released guidelines for the sport.

“The administrative council this last week came up with some new legislative actions and they are suggesting- not requiring- that schools, basketball in particular, test three times a week,” Bauer said. “That does not fit well with the Division II model. Availability of tests, personnel to test everybody—there’s a financial issue, but more importantly we have to be able to test and be able to turn that test over within 48 hours right.”

Current policy has students testing once per week 72 hours after competition.

The health of student athletes and sports fans is still an important consideration.

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