FARGO - North Dakota State's football program has been first in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision for the last decade.

Now the university is first in another area: personal protective equipment. Head coach Matt Entz told Dom Izzo on his Hot Mic radio show on 970 WDAY-AM Thursday that the university has purchased cloth facemasks that attach to the helmet. It's all about addressing the COVID-19 pandemic that has already shut down six of the 13 conferences in the FCS.

"We have done some modifications that we believe can help mitigate the spread of the virus when you are playing football," Entz said. "We were one of the first universities in the country to purchase these facemasks that can attach to the helmet,"

The players were to wear the design Thursday during NDSU's walkthrough practice. The team is allowed to conduct walkthroughs as part of phase 3 the NCAA's return to play protocols until fall camp begins Aug. 7.

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"We have some other alternatives for our quarterbacks because they need to communicate and this facemask may hinder that," Entz said. "We have talked to people at Sanford and continually promote wearing a facemask and (if you do that) the chance of transmitting the virus is very slim."

North Dakota State purchased a cloth facemask that will attach to the helmet. (photo provided to WDAY Sports)
North Dakota State purchased a cloth facemask that will attach to the helmet. (photo provided to WDAY Sports)

The facemasks are made by Performance Award Center out of Carrollton, Texas, a company that started out more about branding products than making them but has since branched to other areas. Entz added that eight of the 11 Missouri Valley Football Conference teams have either purchased or contacted the company.

"If we want to play a football, this is what we have to do," Entz said. "Our players are wearing masks in the weight room, everywhere they go. This is what we need to do."

The Valley on Monday delayed making a decision on playing football this fall. Next Tuesday, the NCAA Board of Governors will meet and could determine to either cancel or postpone the fall championships, which includes the FCS playoffs.