Despite a few setbacks at North Carolina, NC State and Notre Dame this week, the ACC is still pushing forward to a 2020 football season.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford said as much Friday when he made a special guest appearance on the ACC Network’s Packer & Durham Show. The ACC’s longtime commissioner was on the show to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the network, which launched on August 22, 2019.
This week has been a bumpy ride for the ACC as UNC, Notre Dame and NC State saw a rise in COVID-19 positive test results when classes opened up. North Carolina announced it will move back to online classes and has asked students living on campus to move out. UNC suspended all athletic practices for 24 hours.
At NC State, athletic practices continued, but the school announced Thursday it has moved to online classes as well. Notre Dame moved to online classes and closed access to all public spaces on campus for at least two weeks after it had an outbreak this week.
Notre Dame also shutdown practices and announced its sports teams will not return to practice until its medical staff says it is safe to do so. The Irish had five players test positive for the coronavirus on Thursday and six more are in quarantine protocol.
But the ACC continues to hold strong as it is now less than three weeks away from starting the ACC season, which begins on Sept 10, as Miami host UAB in its season opener.
“So far, our board [of governors] in the ACC, which is our presidents, has continued to believe that is the case and that is why we have consistently stayed with the process we have had for the last five months and consistently stayed, so far, with the idea that we can mitigate it and play safely and that is the best thing for our student-athletes,” Swofford said. “So, every week is different and, as I said, the students coming back to our campuses changes that environment and hopefully, it can be managed in an appropriate way that continues for us to have the answers that we have had the last few weeks in terms of going ahead with playing.
“But every day is a new day and every week is a new week and so far, we have stayed on that path as has the SEC and the Big 12.”
Swofford said the ACC, SEC and Big 12 have continued to moved forward with the start of the football season because they feel confident with the medical advice they have been given has assured them there student-athletes are safe as long as they continue to monitor and stay with the guidelines and protocols they have set forth in the conferences.
Because the Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed their seasons until the spring, some have wondered and questioned why those two Power 5 Conferences made different decisions.
“Because there is a certain lack of consistency as to what we hear from the medical profession, and I think that and the fact that goes with that, is that there are unknowns. Certainly, for the layman, but also for those in the medical profession,” Swofford said. “I think another thing that goes with it is that it shows the medical people can look at the same information and interrupted it differently and feel differently about your ability to mitigated it in terms of playing sports in our instance and doing it safely.
“That is a real part of the challenge. We have been extremely pleased with our medical group that was put together a month ago with representatives from each of the fifteen institutions, as well as the doctors outside of that group that they had brought in as consultants in giving advice to our presidents and to our athletic directors.”
Swofford credited the ACC’s COVID-19 task force for doing a tremendous job in providing the league with information and advice over the last five months.
“Dr. Cameron Wolfe at Duke has just been tremendous in chairing that group,” the Commissioner said. “The whole effort is really aimed at answering the question: Can we play safely? And can we mitigate the virus in a way that keeps our student-athletes and others around the program and involved with the competition sake and therefore is it appropriate to go forward with it?”
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