Kennesaw State may be in the need of a replacement game to open its 2020 football schedule.
Point University, which was to be the Owls’ home opener at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Sept. 5, will not be allowed to play that game.
The NAIA Council of Presidents released new guidelines for allowing its members to begin preparations for the fall sports schedule this week. One of the decisions was to reduce the number of games football teams could play from 11 to nine because of concerns over the coronavirus.
Practice for the NAIA fall programs cannot begin prior to Aug. 15, and the football schedules cannot kick off until Sept. 12. Point, based in the town of West Point just east of the Alabama-Georgia state line, is a member of the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference for football, as is Reinhardt University in Waleska.
A Kennesaw State spokesman said the university is aware of the NAIA’s decision and is considering its options.
What those options are right now are uncertain. In addition to the NAIA shortening its football seasons, the NCAA has already announced its Divison II schools will see its seasons reduced from 11 to 10 games.
Four other Football Championship Subdivision teams are scheduled to play either NAIA or Division II programs Sept. 5. If those games are lost, the Owls might be able to find a willing opponent from either Lamar, (scheduled to play Mississippi College), Stetson (Ave Maria), North Carolina A&T (Shaw) or East Tennessee State (Mars Hill).
North Carolina A&T would be a playoff-quality matchup, as the Aggies are coming off a 9-3 season and finished at No. 20 in the final STATS FCS poll. They will also join Kennesaw State in the Big South Conference beginning with the 2021 season.
Kennesaw State also has a history with East Tennessee State. The Owls played their inaugural game against the Buccaneers in Johnson City, Tennessee, in 2015 and won 56-16. They also hosted ETSU in the home opener the following season and fell 20-17 in double overtime. The Buccaneers are coming off a 3-9 season in 2019.
Kennesaw State also had the need to find a replacement game last season. Duquesne was originally scheduled to come to Kennesaw, but it backed out of the game. After not being able to find an FCS program to fill the void, the Owls ultimately hosted Reinhardt, winning 31-7 in a game shortened to one half due to heavy rain.
If Kennesaw State cannot find a replacement for Point, its season opener would be on the road Sept. 12 at Kent State. The home opener would be the following week, starting a three-game stretch the Owls would host Alabama State, Tarleton State — a top-10 team in Division II last season that is making its FCS debut in 2020 — and Samford.