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Volume 26 No. 177
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Emmert Stresses Students Must Be On Campus For Sports To Return

Emmert said college sports will not be played if students are not back on campus
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Emmert said college sports will not be played if students are not back on campus
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Emmert said college sports will not be played if students are not back on campus
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NCAA President Mark Emmert said "college athletes are college students, and you can’t have college sports if you don’t have college (campuses) open and having students on them," according to Zach Braziller of the N.Y. POST. Appearing on the NCAA's Twitter channel on Friday, Emmert said, "You don’t want to ever put student-athletes at greater risk than the rest of the student body." Those comments came hours after Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said that her conference had "already decided fall sports would not be played if students aren’t allowed on campus." Emmert said that every commissioner and president he has spoken to "adheres to the belief that if regular students aren’t on campus, student-athletes can’t be, either." Emmert: "If a school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple" (N.Y. POST, 5/9). Emmert also said that he "does not think sports can return at schools operating in an online-only teaching environment." Emmert and NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline added that "testing and tracing both need to dramatically improve before sports can return" (USA TODAY, 5/9). ESPN's Paul Finebaum said universities trying to get students on campus are “looking to check a box” in order to get “get away with having college football” (“Get Up,” ESPN, 5/11). 

BIG EAST BREAKDOWN: Ackerman indicated that the Big East is "prepared for a 'patchwork outcome' that could have some of its schools back as novel coronavirus restrictions are lifted while others remain in lockdown." In DC, Kareem Copeland noted the Big East "decided it would be unfair to keep any school or program from participating in sports if the institution is open before others in the league." Ackerman: "Any school that’s lucky enough to be back in business should allow their athletes to resume activity, even if another Big East school isn’t there yet. The last thing we would want to do is to hold back the athletes in one place because the athletes in another aren’t quite there" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/9). In New Jersey, Jerry Carino noted Ackerman mentioned the term "hybrid" several times when discussing a possible return. She said, "Some schools are looking at a hybrid approach." Carino noted campuses "could be opened on a limited basis, for a percentage of students who can’t do their thing from home" (ASBURY PARK PRESS, 5/9).

ASSESSING DAMAGES: Ackerman said that should the college football season be delayed, she "envisions 'a domino effect' that would push back the college basketball season" as well. She also "identified the first week of September as the critical time when decisions will have to be made about the upcoming college basketball season." Ackerman said that the Big East is "prepared to hold athletic events with either limited attendance or no spectators at all." She explained, "You’d sort of give up the fan atmosphere as well as the fan revenue. But at least you could produce something that your followers on television could follow and appreciate and enjoy" (NEWSDAY, 5/9). In Philadelphia, Joe Juliano noted in talking about the heavy losses schools suffered because of the cancellation of the '20 NCAA Tournament, Ackerman revealed that the Big East "had insurance that covered pandemics." She said together with financial reserves that were established when the league relaunched in '13, "we were able to access that to a degree to help mitigate some of the damage." The Big East is "looking at alternative scheduling models for its six fall sports, including the possibility of a regional model." Ackerman said that "would be for this season only" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/9).

OUT WEST: Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott cited three reasons he is “more optimistic this week" than he was last week. First, the NFL’s reveal of its '20 schedule on Thursday evening and what Scott called the absence of “pushback from government officials” in the states that have NFL teams and Pac-12 campuses. Second, the spate of recent announcements by Pac-12 universities that they intend to reopen for the fall with students on campus, developments Scott called “very encouraging." Scott: "We’ve said from the start that if it’s not safe for the students, it’s not safe for the student-athletes.” Finally, discussions with the Pac-12’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee left him “feeling like there’s a good chance we’ll get there.” Scott said that he has "spoken with each president/chancellor individually since the shutdown began and believes there is a commitment to move forward as one" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 5/9).

COME TOGETHER? SI.com's Glen West noted the NCAA and the conferences are "trying to work toward a common goal," but there are "still many varying opinions on fundamental issues" (SI.com, 5/9). In DC, Barry Svrluga writes college football "has no commissioner," and at a "time like this, when the pandemic leaves us yearning for the best information about how to act and what to do, any entity without a single, steady, strong voice is in danger of listing, perhaps badly" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/11). In Dallas, Chuck Carlton noted for now, all 10 members of the Big 12 "say they expect to be open for fall classes, viewed as a key step forward for football’s return," and 13 of the 14 SEC schools have "expressed similar sentiments, with the exception of Vanderbilt." On the "opposite end of the spectrum, the large majority of Big Ten schools have not yet said they are definitely returning to fall classes." Baylor AD Mack Rhoades said that there are "already competitive balance concerns with some schools opening up weight room facilities for voluntary workouts." He added, "We’re going to have to find a way to make it work. I just don’t know we’ll be able to mandate 100% equality across the board. Otherwise we end up being our worst enemy. We make it harder for us to get to the main goal" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/10).