Uncertainty Lies Ahead for College Football

NCAA’s Mark Emmert says fall sports likely a no-go if campuses aren’t open

Myron Medcalf (ESPN)  —  NCAA president Mark Emmert said he does not envision schools being ready to begin competing in college football or other fall sports unless students return to campuses around the country.

In an interview shown on the NCAA’s official Twitter account Friday night, Emmert said he has spoken to hundreds of presidents and commissioners in recent weeks and he believes there is consensus among them.

“All of the commissioners and every president that I’ve talked to is in clear agreement: If you don’t have students on campus, you don’t have student-athletes on campus,” Emmert said. “That doesn’t mean [the school] has to be up and running in the full normal model, but you have to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students. … If a school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple.”

Emmert said he believes final decisions about fall sports resuming amid a coronavirus pandemic could come sometime next month.

“I suspect that people are going to have to make decisions sometime in June,” Emmert said. “Maybe by the Fourth of July.”

While major conference commissioners have pushed for schools and the athletic programs attached to them to start at the same time, Emmert said that’s unlikely. He said schools, based on institutional and local regulations, likely will open at different times with different models, potentially with students on-campus or off-campus, for each university.

“It’s unlikely everyone is in the same situation,” he said.

Emmert said multiple conference commissioners, school presidents and athletic directors have had conversations about the various scenarios that could unfold in the coming months. As a result, he said, there have been conversations about “relaxing” typical regulations such as the number of games or the rules governing how often opponents can play one another in the same season.

“Let’s keep our priorities in place and recognize this is going to be a very unusual school year, and we just have to make the best of it,” he said.

Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer who also participated in the conversation on Friday night, added that improved coronavirus testing and tracing are key components going forward.

“What does testing really mean and how often does it have to be done, especially if you’re in a contact sport and the athletes are close to each other?” he said.

But there is hope. Emmert said a “phased” approach could potentially lead to the gradual return of fans, assuming those decisions align with local, state and federal regulations.

“Just because there’s some regulation that’s been lifted doesn’t mean that automatically means you should immediately put 105,000 fans in a football stadium,” Emmert said. “I think that the proper thing to do and the sensible thing to do is a phased approach. It’s plausible to me that early in the season, let’s just stick with football, you see a very limited fan access, but by later in the season, as things develop, hopefully in a very positive way, you all of sudden can see larger fan bases attending.”

But Emmert also said that’s an optimistic perspective. There are scenarios that worry him and other college sports power brokers, scenarios they’re not sure how they’ll address if there is an outbreak during the season.

“The other scenario that we all are nervous about but we certainly have to think through is what if we have an outbreak?” he said. “What if there is a flare-up in a community on a campus? What do we do then? How does the campus handle it? How does the fan base handle it? What do you do with your student-athletes? We’ve got just a little bit of time to think through all of those scenarios. Because that, too, is certainly plausible with 11,000 NCAA schools, 19,000 teams, half-million student-athletes. The arithmetic is not in your favor if you think you’re not going to have any outbreaks in that cohort. We’re working through all of these scenarios.”



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Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
May 11, 2020 12:58 pm

I haven’t seen this mentioned but how about this for football. All players have the face grid come to the chin and they all have a clear plastic face shield attached that goes all the way down. Could even add a neck gaiter as well.

Noble Member
rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
May 11, 2020 7:16 am

To go completely off subject but to put some food for thought out there, it’s always been a craw in my side as to why USC does not have a women’s softball team. I was up early this AM and watching a game on ESPNU. Apparently a study was done several years ago and the bottom line was there were no facilities close to SC that would be sufficient for a softball field. So a field hockey team was chosen over a softball team. With the wealth of talent in women’s softball in Southern California at the High School level,… Read more »

Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
May 10, 2020 4:22 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Puts the USC class at #5 for a while.

Noble Member
rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
May 11, 2020 6:40 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I’ve been watching those games too as well as the ’77 Rose Bowl vs Michigan and the Rose Bowl game vs Ohio State where Charles White literally carried the team on the last drive of the game and ran for over 200 yards. The number of carries in a game that SC tailbacks received under Coach Robinson’s teams would be unheard of today. Winning with a strong D and solid, ball control running game was not spectacular, but very effective. Bottom line is winning and I would rather win a low scoring game than see the ball thrown all over… Read more »

Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 10, 2020 1:06 pm

Jamaica and Golden Trojan explained the boundaries facing Carol Folt and Mike Bohn. The pandemic has totally changed the landscape of higher education. I personally think that prior to the Pandemic, Folt’s vision was very pedestrian – she wanted to lead SC from its “barbaric past” to the genteel world of the elite institutions – the Ivys, the Stanfords, the Berkeleys, the Rices, the Vanderbilts, etc. I can see no other reason for her forcing Bohn to keep the worst HC in SC history and one of the worst in Power 5. Not one rational person believes Clay would have… Read more »

Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
May 9, 2020 4:45 pm

A USC Trojan face mask with a 5 layer carbon filter will be the mandatory fan/student gear. My order is in. Everybody mask up and we will be fine. Nationwide the positive test rate is 16%, in California it’s 7%. Hospitals outside of New York City have been underwhelmed and many on the verge of bankruptcy by Whuhan Virus lock down. Protect the at risk, foreign students stay home, keep the testing going and let’s get back to work.

Knighted Member
Jamaica (@jamaica)
May 9, 2020 11:26 am

It can be no other way…. No students on campus and that should go for student-athletes too. No fans sitting in the bleachers and no games should be played. Classroom teleconferencing may become the norm for who knows how long. It took some 5-decades to discover the Polio vaccine. The flues today are getting really nasty and by themselves a danger to the very young & elderly. And there still is no vaccine for it or the common cold. World travel that brings in contact 3rd World Nations & Countries still not able or willing to reach and provide knowledge… Read more »

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
May 9, 2020 1:02 pm
Reply to  Jamaica

Well stated Jamaica. 🙁