Flyers football team opts out of 2021 spring PFL season, will practice in preparation for fall season

With their announcement to opt out of the 2021 spring PFL season, the Flyers became the first and (so far) only team from the conference to opt out. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

When the University of Dayton football team announced Wednesday they would be opting out of the 2021 Pioneer Football League spring season, head coach Rick Chamberlin cited a “myriad of complex COVID-related factors” for causing their decision. On Thursday, Chamberlin met with local media via Zoom to discuss the reasoning for the decision and what the spring may look like.

Chamberlin said the final decision was not a question of whether the team wanted to compete, but because of the many challenges faced because of COVID-19.

“Looking at it, though, it just didn’t appear with all of the assortment of challenges that were not falling into place (that we would) be able to play,” Chamberlin said. “There were a number of them, there wasn’t one big challenge that we felt if we fix that we can get this done. It was just a collection of different things which led to this decision.”

Making the announcement of the decision to seniors first, Chamberlin then told the rest of the team on a Zoom call he said included around 115 people. Chamberlin said the players were disappointed by the news, but wasn’t a “total surprise” because the administration and athletic director Neil Sullivan stayed in regular contact with the team.

“It’s still a disappointment, especially for your seniors, as we would anticipate,” Chamberlin said. “Our seniors who would want to have that Dayton uniform possibly for one more time there, which was the hardest part about a decision like this is how it affected your seniors.”

Some seniors, according to Chamberlin, have already expressed a desire or need to move on because of jobs or Medical school or law school. However, Chamberlin said he would anticipate some of his players coming back for a regular fall season.

After going through a fall and winter unlike any other football season, the Flyers have practiced just 14 times (8 padded) since Nov. 2019. Because of that, Chamberlin hopes the Flyers will be able to take advantage of the NCAA potentially allowing “some leeway” for more practice time for teams not playing games this spring.

“There are still some details we have to work out,” Chamberlin said. “Typically it’s 15 practices, so many with helmets, so many in shell and that sort of thing, but I believe that there has been some legislation that will allow us to do more than just that. Have more than just eight padded practices in a total of 15 which would be a help, most definitely. If we can get more practices in than a typical spring, that’ll just help us in our football development.”