Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford does not agree with Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
Last week, Bowlsby said he believes students do not necessarily need to be back on campus for college football to return this fall.
On Thursday, Swofford met with The Clemson Insider, along with other select members of the media, during a virtual conference call and said it is hard for him to envision a scenario where college football games will be played in the fall without students being physically on campus.
“That seems foreign to me, personally, because we’re a part of an educational setting,” Swofford said as he spent more than an hour trying to answer questions to how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect college football. “Intercollegiate athletics are students playing sports. So personally, that seems foreign to me, but we’ll have to wait and see. It’s another unanswered question right now, but most people I talk with in college athletics and higher education, I think, agree that it’s a foreign thought to most of us.”
Earlier on Thursday, in contrast with Swofford, Bowlsby reiterated to Sports Illustrated he doesn’t see why college athletics can’t be played as long as classes are conducted online.
“If in the main students are taking classes online, I don’t think it’s a problem that student-athletes take classes online and participate in athletics,” Bowlsby told Sports Illustrated‘s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger. “However, if the university is closed and nobody is taking classes in-person or online in any way, I don’t think you can have sports because these are student athletes and they need to be enrolled and going to college to participate in the program.”
While Bowlsby thinks college athletics can return if the players and student body are at least taking online classes, Swofford’s opinion is that there is a better chance of fall sports returning if college campuses are open and have students back.
“The faculty members with students, alums, college-town communities in a lot of instances, whether we were able to play fall sports or not really would have a lot to do with what the campus situation was when the time comes,” Swofford said. “If your students are back and in session — there are different definitions of what’s open in today’s world obviously – but if campuses are back and generally operating and teaching in whatever way, I think, that certainly improves the likelihood that games are being played, whether it’s with fans or whether it’s without fans.
“So, I think that’s a real good start if our institutions are coming back into session as most of them seem to be indicating that at this point in time they intend to do.”
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