The coronavirus is making it unlikely colleges and universities will be ready to compete in athletics at the same time this fall. That is what NCAA President Mark Emmert reported Friday night in an interview shown on the NCAA’s official Twitter page.
Emmert was joined in the interview with the NCAA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline. As reported by the Associated Press, Emmert said the goal is for every team to have an equal amount of preparation time before its season starts, and there could be some competitive inequities used by schools having varied timelines for re-opening campuses.
Though the goal for college football has been for every team to start on time, it appears that is not going to happen. As The Clemson Insider reported on May 5, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in states re-opening at different times across the country. Because of this it is likely some schools will be ready to play before others.
“I think we should assume that’s going to be the case,” Emmert reportedly said.
As TCI reported, Clemson seems very optimistic about getting student-athletes back on campus by July 15. This falls in line with the six-week timeframe the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) and the NCAA previously said schools must have before they can start playing.
However, Hainline said that working plan is not “set in stone.”
“All the various member committees and the conferences are all talking about … What does it mean if we have that sort of scenario where we’ve got different opening times or different opening models,” Emmert said.
“What does it mean if you look at a conference, for example, if a conference has some schools open and some not?” he continued. “You can’t run a regular schedule if you’ve got that scenario. How do you adjust all the rules to provide as much flexibility as you possibly can to let student-athletes have a good experience in that season?”
The NCAA requires FBS football teams to play at least nine games, including five at home. Week 0 of the 2020 season is scheduled to begin on Aug. 29 as 12 teams kick off the season. The rest of the country is scheduled to start on the weekend of Sept. 5, including Clemson, who opens two days before at Georgia Tech on Sept. 3.
“We aren’t going to have one national time when everyone can start preseason so there’s going to be a little bit of inequity there,” Hainline said. “The most important thing is what’s going to be the minimum amount of time necessary that you have to be in preseason, for example, before you can start football.”
Though the schools and conferences are doing all they can to work together and move forward, things are a mess right now. In the ACC, its 14 football schools are stretched amongst 10 states. Right now, some of those states are already starting to re-open or will re-open soon, while others have not even started the process to begin resocialization.
“I think it’s unlikely everybody is going to be in the same place at the same time and that will create some of those difficulties,” Emmert said.
Emmert also shot down the notion by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who told the Stadium earlier this week, schools can compete in athletics even if a school is only offering online classes and its campus is closed. The NCAA President said there can be no college sports on campuses that are not open to students.
“If you don’t have students on campus, you don’t have student-athletes on campus,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it has to be up and running in the full normal model, but you’ve got to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students. So, if a school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple.”
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