NCAA President Mark Emmert said he does not imagine schools are ready to start competing in college football or other autumn sports unless students return to campuses across the country.
In an interview shown on the NCAA’s official Twitter account Friday night, Emmert said he had spoken with hundreds of presidents and commissioners in recent weeks and he was sure there was consensus between them.
“All the commissioners and every president I spoke to had clear agreement: If you don’t have students on campus, you don’t have student athletes on campus,” Emmert said. “That is meaningless [the school] must be up and running in full normal model, but you must treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as ordinary students. … If the school does not reopen, they will not play sports. Very simple. “
Emmert said he was confident the final decision about the fall sport would begin again in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic can come next month.
“I suspect people will have to make decisions around June,” Emmert said. “Maybe on the Fourth of July.”
While the main conference commissioner had encouraged the school and the accompanying athletic program to start at the same time, Emmert said that was impossible. He said schools, based on institutional and local regulations, are likely to be open at different times with different models, potentially with students on campus or off campus, for each university.
“It’s not possible for everyone to be in the same situation,” he said.
Emmert said several conference commissioners, school presidents and athletic directors had discussed various scenarios that could be revealed in the coming months. As a result, he said, there was a conversation about “relaxing” typical rules such as the number of matches or rules governing how often opponents could play each other in the same season.
“Let’s keep our priorities in place and realize this will be a very unusual school year, and we just have to make the best of it,” he said.
Brian Hainline, chief NCAA medical officer who also participated in the conversation on Friday night, added that enhanced testing and tracking of the corona virus were key components going forward.
“What does testing really mean and how often should it be done, especially if you are in contact sports and athletes are close to each other?” she says.
But there is hope. Emmert said the “gradual” approach could potentially lead to a gradual return of fans, assuming the decision was in line with local, state and federal regulations.
“Just because there are some rules that are repealed doesn’t mean that it automatically means you have to immediately place 105,000 fans in a football stadium,” Emmert said. “I think the right thing to do and the sensible thing to do is a phased approach. It makes sense to me that at the start of the season, let’s stick with football, you see very limited fan access, but then this season, as its development, hopefully in a very positive way, you can suddenly see a larger fan base present. “
But Emmert also said it was an optimistic perspective. There is a scenario that worries him and other campus sports brokers, their scenario is not sure how they will cope if there is an outbreak during the season.
“Another scenario that makes all of us worried, but we certainly have to think about is what if we experience an outbreak?” What if there is turmoil in a community on campus? then what should we do? How does the campus handle it? How do you handle the fan base? What do you do with your student-athlete? We only have a little time to think about all of these scenarios. Because it also makes sense with 11,000 NCAA schools, 19,000 teams, half a million student-athletes. Arithmetic does not benefit you if you think you will not have an outbreak in that group. We are working on all of these scenarios. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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