As the time for each conference to make decisions reaches its final hours, NCAA president Mark Emmert revealed his thoughts on the 2020 season. The acting leader of the NCAA, Emmert said he’s “very concerned” about the college football season, adding that either a delayed or shortened season makes the most sense moving forward.
In addition to increased knowledge of the in-season testing protocols, Emmert said a much clearer picture will be painted once college students start returning to school and the student-athletes are walking the campus and going to class with their fellow students.
“We do get to see what happens when people return to campus,” Emmert said in an interview with ESPN. “You get to learn a lot from what’s going on with professional sports. We get to see how the testing protocols emerge and how that can be more effective, especially if we can get antigen testing going, for keeping track of the virus on campuses. The fact a delay could provide us with time to do all that could be very, very useful.”
A handful of the Power 5 conferences have already made some of their plans known. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have both announced an all-conference schedule for the upcoming season while the ACC decided to punt on making any further decisions into August, according to a report from Stadium’s Brett McMurphy.
Recent reporting has suggested that the ACC, SEC and Big-12 could elect to wait until the middle of August to make any final decisions on whether to delay the season. Instead, what is likely to happen this week is more of a “check-in” according to ESPN’s Heather Dinich.
“I believe a proper timeline could be a check-in point at the end of July, which is what we believe in at the SEC, and then let’s see what happens as we start training camps and fall practices,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork told Dinich. “It’s a lot easier to pull back than it is to ramp up. I think really you could look at the middle of August as a realistic timeline to say, ‘OK, are we ready to start on time?'”
Then of course there’s the chance of no season at all that’s creeping into the backs of most’s minds. Last week the NCAA board of governors met to discuss the future of fall sports.
Among the topics discussed was the cancelling of all fall championships. While that wouldn’t translate to regular season or conference championships, it would mean that no college football national champion would be crowned if the fall championships were cancelled.
The board tabled that decision until Aug. 4, when they are next set to meet and further discuss that topic. In his interview with ESPN, Emmert said that because of the spikes happening across the country, the NCAA needs to see the needle start to move in a more positive direction.
“We continue to see in various areas spikes both in terms of viral spread, in terms of the percent of tests that are coming back positive, and hospitalizations and tragically even deaths,” Emmert said. “In those areas where we know we have a lot of competition, a lot of sports going on, we need to see movement in the right direction and right now, it’s starting to plateau in some areas, but it’s not headed in the right direction.”
The SEC hasn’t officially made any statements at this time but should be providing an update in the next few days.
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