ATHENS — Many are beginning to assume there will be a college football season, but as last Friday’s NCAA press conference made obvious, there’s a lot left to be determined
NCAA president Mark Emmert raised questions about the uniformity of college football’s return.
Specifically, Emmert suggested states’ COVID-19 resocialization provisions may vary, affecting when different programs can get back on the practice field and/or start the season.
“What does it mean if you look at a conference, for example, if a conference has some schools open and some not?” Emmert said.
But along those same lines, one might ask what should be done with schools that got in more of their allocated spring practices (Clemson, most notably), while others didn’t start?
The answer, of course, is nothing. Circumstances can and will vary.
Emmert concedes, “if we’ve got to relax regulatory regimes” (NCAA rules) to have college sports, “then fine … it’s going to be a very unusual school year.”
NCAA president Mark Emmert: “If we’ve got to relax regulatory regimes” (i.e. NCAA rules) to have college sports “then fine. … It’s going to be a very unusual school year.”
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) May 8, 2020
The reality is that, despite the NCAA’s best intentions, there won’t be a level playing field where the return from the COVID-19 virus is concerned.
Pandemics don’t play by the rules. Some areas have been hit harder than others.
Further, there are no rules set in stone as to what qualifies as a return to campus, in terms of how many classes players must attend in person versus online classes.
Most everyone acknowledges more virtual learning is in the future, and that should work in the favor of college student-athletes who want to compete in the fall.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who has been at the forefront discussing college football’s future since the onset of the COVID-19 impact on collegiate sports on March 12, has pointed out it’s too early to set any decisions in stone.
The fact is, no one knows what the status of the coronavirus pandemic will be and what different states’ leaders will choose to do in July.
The respective governors’ decisions will not only affect students’ return to campus, but also the questions of how fans might — or might not — be attending games.
From the onset, Sankey has stressed the fluidity of the situation and emphasized more information leads to better decisions.
What is known is that the NCAA oversight committee has advocated for six weeks of prep before the season starts. That would set the timeline for student-athletes to return to campus in mid-July.
A lot can happen between now and then.
It’s a safe bet Sankey and other collegiate leaders will be taking note of how the professional sports leagues handle the complications involved in their returns.
Friday night’s On The Beat production discussed the return of college football, how the NBA is handling its return, and a funny story Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart told about Nick Saban.