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VMI, Southern Conference abandon fall football plans; NCAA cancels fall championships

VMI, Southern Conference abandon fall football plans; NCAA cancels fall championships

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Grant Clemons of VMI kicked a 56-yard field goal at the end of regulation to force overtime in last season’s win over Samford.

The Southern Conference, to which VMI belongs, announced Thursday the suspension of fall sports, including football, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league intends to explore the possibility of playing fall sports in the spring, as will most other FCS conferences.

The Keydets were scheduled to play at Virginia on Sept. 11. The Cavaliers are now slated to open their 10-game schedule at Virginia Tech on Sept. 19, though UVA announced it will seek an opponent to replace VMI.

“We support and respect the SoCon decision regarding fall sports,” VMI athletic director Dr. Dave Diles said. “The health and safety of our cadet-athletes and staff is our top priority as we deal with this pandemic. We will focus our efforts to an efficient and orderly transition to spring 2021 competition.

“There’s not a better school in the country that can prepare our cadet-athletes for adversity and to overcome obstacles and VMI will adapt and put forth a plan that will move us forward.”

VMI was the last of Virginia’s six FCS programs that continued to prepare for a fall football season. VMI began preseason practice on Aug. 7, after freshman players and basketball players reported to post on July 11 to begin the protocol process in preparation for voluntary workouts.

The Keydets were scheduled to receive $375,000 for their appearance at UVA. VMI’s roster includes 21 players from the Richmond area. Most FCS leagues have canceled fall football, meaning the NCAA will not conduct FCS playoffs in 2020. The NCAA, which announced Thursday that it also will not conduct championships in other fall sports during 2020, has not determined whether FCS playoffs will be held in the spring.

Two of VMI’s three games outside of Southern Conference competition — the Keydets’ opener at Robert Morris on Sept. 5 and Princeton’s visit to Lexington on Sept. 19 — had already been canceled.

joconnor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6233

@RTDjohnoconnor

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