OGDEN, Utah — The Big Sky Conference said Wednesday that it'll provide all of its teams with a day off from required athletic activities on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, when the U.S. Presidential and other elections will be held.
The conference’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee recommended this initiative. The league’s athletic directors unanimously approved the recommendation.
"Proud of our @BigSkyConf student-athletes, administrators and staff," Montana State athletic director Leon Costello wrote on Twitter.
Nov. 3 is the Tuesday of the game week that Montana State is scheduled to play at Eastern Washington, a game that could be key in the race for the conference title. Montana is scheduled to play that weekend at Northern Colorado, which is led by new head coach Ed McCaffrey.
Whether the schedule is played as is, or if the season is played at all, is still an unknown because of the coronavirus pandemic. The first game for both the Griz and Cats is scheduled for Sept. 5.
The Big Sky SAAC, comprised of two members from each of the conference’s 11 full members, will work in conjunction with its athletic department SAACs and the conference office to promote voter education and registration among all student-athletes as well as to provide opportunities for community involvement leading up to and on Nov. 3. Each school will determine the appropriate ways that its SAAC can partner with its entire student body as desired for this to be a campus-wide effort.
“Big Sky student-athletes across all of our schools and sports are engaged and thoughtful citizens who are sincerely interested in making a meaningful difference, especially in today’s world,” Commissioner Tom Wistrcill said in a news release. “Suspending athletic activities on Election Day is a concept our Presidents and athletic directors very likely would have suggested anyway, but the fact that our SAAC proposed this initiative makes it even more meaningful to everyone who it will impact.”
Northern Colorado football student-athlete Justice Littrell, the Big Sky SAAC chair and vice chair of the NCAA’s Division I SAAC, added: “The Big Sky Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is excited to be advocates for change so that our athletes can freely exercise their right and privilege to vote. Many times athletics is so much at the center of our lives that we forget that decisions made on Election Day will many times surpass our athletic career.
"Giving our athletes an opportunity to get out in the community and participate in voting without repercussions is the right thing to do, and we encourage all of our athletes to do just that. We are excited to spearhead a change that will impact athletes for years to come.”
The Big Sky SAAC executive leadership team currently includes Littrell, Darby Henthorn of Montana track and field, Kaysie Bruce of Idaho women’s soccer, and Paige Donathan of Portland State women’s soccer.
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