SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Big West Conference fall sports will not be conducted during the current academic year.

The decision of the Big West Conference’s Board of Directors, announced Thursday, to not conduct men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s indoor volleyball in the spring came after extended consideration of the ongoing health and safety challenges affecting Big West campuses and communities, and the significant resources required to properly safeguard the health and well-being of all student-athletes.

The decision does not impact football at Cal Poly and all other sports unaffiliated with the Big West Conference. The Mustangs compete in the Big Sky Conference for football, with the 2020-21 season beginning Feb. 27.

“We all share in the frustration being felt by our coaches and student-athletes,” said Mustang director of athletics Don Oberhelman. “I appreciate everyone’s patience in these trying times, and encourage us all to be available for the extra effort it will take to continue with playing sports this winter and spring.”

The Board of Directors will continue to monitor and evaluate the current program of COVID-19 medical and safety protocols for basketball. Basketball will guide a decision regarding a safe return to competition for Big West spring sports. That decision is expected by late January 2021.

“Protecting the health and safety of our student-athletes and following public health guidelines are our top priorities,” Big West Commissioner Dan Butterly said. “Despite a strong desire to return our fall sport student-athletes to competition, the Board unanimously agreed that the resources and protocols needed to safely and equitably conduct fall, winter and spring sports seasons concurrently was not in line with those priorities nor in the best interests of our student-athletes and coaches.”

“This was a difficult decision, particularly in light of the significant sacrifices our staff, coaches, student-athletes and their families have already made in the interest of public health,” added Chair of the Big West Board of Directors and UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman. “While this decision is disappointing for many, the health and safety of Big West student-athletes, coaches, staff and the campus community continue to be the preeminent priorities for the CEOs of the conference’s 11 institutions.”

As medical and scientific data rapidly evolves surrounding the pandemic, the conference will continue to monitor developments and will consider additional actions as needed.