Under Mountain West Conference guidelines, the air in Pullman, Wash., and Boise was far too smoky to play a college football game Tuesday.
If conditions don’t improve, the foul air that’s a result of Northwest wildfires could force Boise State and Washington State to alter plans for the football game scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Martin Stadium.
The Pac-12 reportedly has considered possible changes to the Oregon and Oregon State games this week, but no conversations have been held between Boise State, Washington State and their conferences so far, BSU officials said.
“We’re moving forward as all systems are go,” said Bill Stevens, an associate athletic director at Washington State. “We’ve had this situation in past years and it’s always worked out.”
The Mountain West recommends not playing a game at one of its member schools if the number is above 150.
The Pac-12 doesn’t have that standard. However, Pac-12 Vice President for Communications Dave Hirsch pointed out that the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports provided general guidance in June 2016 on air quality in response to concerns about wildfire pollution.
“Member schools should consider modifying or canceling outdoor athletic events (practices and competitions) in accordance with AQI guidance,” the report says. “Exposure should be managed more conservatively for student-athletes with pre-existing pulmonary or cardiac conditions, which may exacerbate the complications of these conditions and could lead to an acute medical emergency. Specifically, schools should consider removing athletes with pre-existing pulmonary or cardiac conditions from outdoor practice or competition venues at an AQI over 100. At AQIs of over 150, all athletes should be closely monitored. All athletes should be removed from outdoor practice or competition venues at AQIs of 200 or above.”
If schools follow AQI guidance, the recommendation is to “reduce prolonged or heavy exertion” when the AQI is above 150.
Washington State will make the final decision on Saturday’s game, Hirsch said, “in consultation with all relevant health and safety organizations and their own medical personnel based upon all available information.”
The Boise State and Washington State teams practiced indoors Tuesday.
There is an indoor stadium 8 miles from Pullman, of course — the Kibbie Dome at the University of Idaho. But the Vandals play UNLV at 5 p.m. Mountain time on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Oregon’s football team drove an hour west Tuesday to practice on the coast. The Pac-12 told OregonLive.com that it’s monitoring air quality in Eugene (180 AQI) and Corvallis (92 AQI) and potentially could change the game times or dates for Oregon-Nebraska and Oregon State-Minnesota.
“Oregon and Oregon State have been working closely with the relevant regional air protection agency, the Pac-12, and their own medical personnel to monitor and assess the air quality situation since the fires broke out,” Andrew Walker, the Pac-12’s vice president of public affairs, wrote in an email to The Oregonian/OregonLive. “Based upon the information provided by the air protection agency and the expert health and safety advice of the respective university medical professionals, a decision will be made on whether or not to adjust game times and/or dates, with the safety of student-athletes and fans as a priority.”