MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Recent developments have caused Florida Memorial University to revise its 2020 football schedule
Following guidance from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Mid-South Conference Football Overshght Committee, the Lions' schedule won't officially begin until September 12 and conclude on November 7.
According to the NAIA, fall sports teams won't be allowed to resume full-team activities on campuses until August 15th.
"The Mid-South Conference football athletic directors and head coaches have vetted and approved, with the endorsement of the Council of Presidents, a revised 2020 conference football schedule," commissioner Eric Ward said. "With the lingering uncertainty regarding many of the details surrounding a return to play in the fall, our conference leadership felt it would be prudent to go ahead and develop a contingency plan for football, the sport with the largest student-athlete participation and the most procedural complexities from the start of preseason practice through completion of the regular season schedule. Our schools will face a number of challenges this fall, and the revised football schedule will make some of those challenges easier for our members to address."
As a result, FMU's football schedule looks much different than it did from its initial release in March.
The schedule now consists almost entirely of opponents not only within the state of Florida, but within the Mid-South Conference – including facing a pair of conference foes twice within the year.
FMU will now play a 9-game schedule – hosting four games and traveling as many as five times – beginning on September 12th at home against Keiser University. The Lions will also be honoring student-athletes who achieved Athletic Director's Honor Roll status – earning a 3.0 grade-point average or higher – during the home opener.
Florida Memorial will hit the road the following weekend for its first away game of the season, traveling to Ave Maria, Florida to face Ave Maria University on September 19th.
The game against the Gyrenes will be the first in a three-game road trip for FMU, who will also travel to face Webber International University on September 26 and Keiser in West Palm Beach on October 3rd.
The Mid-South conference confirmed that in cases where conference teams face each other twice within the new schedule, the first of the two regular-season meetings will be considered a non-divisional game while the second game will be counted in the divisional standings.
Commissioner Ward said he sought a plan that would consider the well-being of the student-athletes while also being mindful of the potential fiscal challenges of Mid-South Conference institutions in the wake of COVID-19.
"The reasons a change in scheduling was deemed necessary are primarily two-fold," Ward said. "First and foremost, we are committed to and 100 percent focused on the safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Pushing the conference start date back to early September gives our coaches more time to get student-athletes acclimated and assess and focus on their appropriate physical conditioning after such a long, unprecedented period with no supervised work-outs. A later start will also help accommodate a later-than-usual initial reporting date for football due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the preparations that our campuses are making in anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall."
"The second reason for the scheduling change was out of concern for the fiscal health of our member institutions," Ward added. "The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to place financial pressures on our members, whether due to increased costs and/or restricted revenues as a result of adherence to state and local guidelines for appropriate testing and prevention of the spread of the virus on their campuses and in their local communities. The revised schedule dramatically reduces travel for all teams, which means fewer hours riding on buses, fewer nights in hotels, and fewer meals in restaurants. Conference leadership felt it was important that we anticipate some sort of alteration or interruption in these and possibly other facets of team travel, particularly when considering the various states where our schools are located and the different responses and guidelines within each."
When the Lions return home from their showdown with the Seahawks, October 10th's game against neighborhood rival St. Thomas University won't only be FMU's first home game in nearly a month, it will also be homecoming for the Florida Memorial.
It'll also mark the first football homecoming for the Lions, who have customarily had its homecoming during basketball (spring) season.
The remainder of the schedule will alternate between home and away games for FMU.
Florida Memorial will play a road game (at Warner University on Oct. 17) and another home game (vs. Ave Maria on Oct. 24) before it enters into an open week (Oct. 31).
However, FMU Athletic Director Ernest T. Jones confirmed that the Lions will have a football game during that "open week" and that the game's official details will be released at a later date.
FMU's regular season will conclude with a home showdown against Mid-South conference foe Southeastern University on November 7th – also a day in which Florida Memorial will pay homage to veterans of the Armed Forces and celebrate "Community Day".
"We've definitely been navigating through some truly uncharted territory because of the COVID-19 virus and the impact that it has had on the world," Jones said.
"But a return to sports is a part of a return to normalcy for us all. The NAIA, the Mid-South Conference, and we at Florida Memorial have been working tirelessly during these times to make sure that we make the best decisions possible for our student-athletes. Just in releasing a new schedule makes me excited that we will indeed get to see all of the hard work and effort that our head coach Tim "Ice" Harris, his coaching staff, and our student-athletes has put forth in making sure that our football program not only competes, but competes at a high level."
~FMU Sports Information
Florida Memorial University Lions Revised 2020 Football Schedule
|Sep. 12||vs. Keiser University+||Miami Gardens, Fla.||1:30 p.m.|
|Sep. 19||at Ave Maria University||Ave Maria, Fla.||TBA|
|Sep. 26||at Webber International University (C)||Babson Park, Fla.||TBA|
|Oct. 3||at Keiser University (C)||West Palm Beach, Fla.||TBA|
|Oct. 10||vs. St. Thomas University* (C)||Miami Gardens, Fla.||1:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 17||at Warner University (C)||Lakeland, Fla.||TBA|
|Oct. 24||vs. Ave Maria University# (C)||Miami Gardens, Fla.||1:30 p.m.|
|Nov. 7||vs. Southeastern University% (C)||Miami Gardens, Fla.||1:30 p.m.|
+ = AD Honor Roll Day
(C) = Mid-South Conference Game
* = Homecoming
# = Black Out Game
% = Armed Forces & Community Day