Northern Colorado became the fifth team to opt out of the Big Sky Conference spring football season, the school announced Thursday.
The Bears join Montana, Montana State, Portland State and Sacramento State, leaving eight of 13 teams still planning to participate in the conference schedule. They'll pursue a modified spring non-conference schedule against regional teams.
UNC is the 30th team that's decided to not participate in the FCS spring season, according to HERO Sports. There are 97 teams that are still planning on playing.
"We strive to provide the highest level of care to all of our student-athletes," Northern Colorado athletic director Darren Dunn said in the news release. "I feel terrible we had to make this difficult decision and how it is going to impact our football student-athletes.
"However, this path allows us to provide the best care and support for not only our football program but all seventeen of our intercollegiate sports. While we are disappointed to not compete in the Big Sky this spring, we are excited to follow the team in Coach McCaffrey's first season this fall."
UNC coach Ed McCaffrey added: "This is the difficult but right decision for us. Our players and staff worked over the past months to build a great culture and team that is ready to compete for championships. But the health and safety of our players take precedence over everything else. After missing last spring and most of summer training due to the pandemic, I am eager to use this spring to safely prepare for a full season in the fall."
Frank Gogola covers Griz football and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at email@example.com.