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Illinois State opts out of Missouri Valley spring schedule, remaining Redbirds games declared 'no contest'

Redbirds head coach Brock Spack points to health and safety of players as major reason.

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Illinois State Redbirds head coach Brock Spack is seen during a 2018 game against Colorado State. Ron Chenoy / USA TODAY Sports

FARGO — Illinois State head football coach Brock Spack seemed hesitant about the spring Missouri Valley Football Conference season when asked about it a couple of weeks ago. Sunday night, March 21, the Redbirds made a firm statement.

They're out.

ISU announced on its football website that it was opting out of the three remaining games, citing the health and safety of its players and to ensure the team is ready to play in the fall. The Redbirds have been hit particularly hard with injuries on the defensive line.

"I have wrestled with this decision for a couple weeks now, but I feel like it's a necessary move to protect our player's health and safety and their ability to be ready come this fall," Spack said in a statement. "Injuries at key positions, especially on the defensive line where we suffered two more setbacks yesterday, have made it nearly impossible for us to play this week and extremely difficult for us to compete in the remaining four games. We appreciate all the support and hard work put in by so many in the ISU Athletics Department and on campus to get us to this point during these challenging times."

The MVFC released a statement Monday, March 22, supporting Illinois State's decision and also clarifying any games that were scheduled to involved the Redbirds be declared a "no contest."

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Here is the complete conference statement: "The Missouri Valley Football Conference is supportive of Illinois State's difficult decision to opt out of the remainder of its spring schedule. Games involving Illinois State this spring have been canceled, and consistent with NCAA policy, those games will be declared a 'no contest' with neither team receiving a win or a loss."

Illinois State finished its spring season with a 26-18 win over Western Illinois on Saturday. The Redbirds shutdown means South Dakota State won't host ISU next Saturday.

ISU had home games remaining against North Dakota and Southern Illinois and a makeup road game at Missouri State.

North Dakota State earned a 21-13 victory against Illinois State on Saturday, March 13, at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. The Redbirds were 1-3 overall this spring before deciding to end their season.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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