The state of South Carolina and Clemson University will decide when it will begin a return to college athletics and not the NCAA.
That is what NCAA President Mark Emmert told ESPN’s Heather Dinich Tuesday night in a report on ESPN.com. In her story, Emmert said the NCAA will not mandate or oversee a uniform return to college sports and will leave those decisions on start dates to local state officials and university presidents.
Emmert says the NCAA’s role is that of an advisory board during the COVID-19 pandemic and they are only available to provide guidance and support to this crisis, much like federal, state, and local governments are doing.
“These are localized decisions,” Emmert said to ESPN. “Local campuses have to decide: Are we opening up, and are we bringing students back to play sports? The NCAA doesn’t mandate that, nor should it. The schools themselves have to make those choices.”
So, what does this latest news mean to the return to college football, in particular Clemson football?
It means when Clemson University is ready to return its players back to campus and begin preparation for the 2020 season, it can do so on its own timetable and not have to worry about what other schools in the ACC footprint are doing.
The Clemson Insider reported on May 5, Clemson is optimistic it can get its student athletes back on campus for fall sports, which includes football, by July 15. If so, that will give Dabo Swinney’s Tigers seven weeks to prepare for the start of the college football season, which is still scheduled to begin on Sept. 3 at Georgia Tech.
“Normally, there’s an agreed-upon start date for every sport, every season,” Emmert said to Dinich, “but under these circumstances, now that’s all been derailed by the pandemic. It won’t be the conferences that can do that, either. It will be the local and state health officials that say whether or not you can open and play football with fans.
“We already saw the Oregon governor offering her views on what’s likely to happen in September. The Pac-12 can say, ‘Gee, we’d all like to open up on this date,’ but whether or not you can is going to be ultimately up to the state and local health officials and the campus itself making a decision whether or not they want to go forward.”
Keep in mind the NCAA does not oversee FBS college football. Major college football determines its champion through the College Football Playoff.
Back in March, the NCAA formed a COVID-19 advisory panel to guide members schools in the response to the pandemic. The panel is led by the NCAA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline.
The state of South Carolina is already trying resocialization. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday that close contact service providers, fitness and exercise centers, commercial gyms and public or commercial pools will be able to open in a limited capacity on Monday, May 18.
Restaurants in South Carolina were allowed to start offering dine-in service this past Monday. All boating restrictions in South Carolina were lifted last Friday.
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