As the start of the college football season continues, NCAA President Mark Emmert said he remains “very concerned” about the status of fall sports on Tuesday and believes the delayed start and shortened schedule may “make sense.”
“We can really see what will happen when people return to campus,” he told ESPN in an interview focusing on the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on college sports. “You can learn a lot about what’s going on with professional sports. We’re seeing how testing protocols are emerging and how they can be more effective, especially if we can get tested for antigen to track the virus on campus. The fact of the delay could give us time to do anything that can be very, very useful.
“Also, switching to fewer games can be very rewarding because you have long breaks between games then and you can provide flexibility in the schedule,”; he said. “… If you have to quarantine a team or a big chunk of a team, you have time for it and you have time to adjust. … I think there will be less competition and doing them late the time interval can be very, very useful. “
Emmert’s remarks come during a key week when the 15 ACC presidents and chancellors are expected to decide on a league planning model, a move Wednesday that could have a significant impact on the SEC, Big 12 and Notre Dame. Officials of the Big 12 and the SEC have expressed a desire to extend the schedule to 12 games if possible, while Notre Dame’s contract with the ACC opens up even more options to expand this partnership this fall.
There is also a long worst case scenario with no season at all. To feel safe to continue his fall sports, Emmert said, “We need to see clearly how the virus is spreading in a much better direction than it is now.”
“We continue to see spikes in various areas, both in terms of viral prevalence and in terms of the percentage of tests that return positive, and hospitalizations and, tragically, even deaths,” he said. “In areas where we know we have a lot of competition, a lot of sport going on. We need to see the movement in the right direction, and right now it’s starting to plateau in some areas, but it’s not pointing in the right direction.”
The NCAA’s role throughout the pandemic was largely to provide consultants, issue medical instructions and protocols, while adjusting rules and denying conferences more flexibility than usual. This has quickly and quietly become more important in recent times, although when the NCAA board of directors began to seriously consider canceling the championships in the fall.
The group, which consists mainly of university presidents representing all three divisions, has the authority to cancel or postpone 22 NCAA Fall Championships in sports such as football, women’s volleyball and FCS football. However, the games and schedules of the regular season are determined at the discretion of individual schools or their conferences.
While the board decided not to make a decision last Friday, Emmert said they may leave at the next meeting on August 4. Emmert said he still hoped the November championships would be played, but if they were canceled, he said it didn’t mean the regular seasons still couldn’t take place.
“They could play in the conference championship if they could make it safe,” he said. “The definition of our championships would be whether we can unite large groups of students in such conditions and do it safely. This is an important point.
“An individual competition is a football game, a basketball game is completely different,” he said. “When it comes to bowling or CFP, you’re talking about a championship game. Can you create a bubble with enough time for two teams to play each other safely? The answer may be yes. FCS – A round-the-clock championship in which There are 20 teams and a full-fledged championship. It’s a completely different and much more difficult environment than adding one or two more games to a season with a lot of space in between. “
Typically, NCAA championships in the fall include round games that take place on campuses, but recently the NCAA decided to use predefined sites to monitor the environment and create something like “bubbles” on those sites.
“If we are going to do what we have to do, we need to continue logistics ahead of schedule this way,” Emmert said. “We have not yet identified these sites. We have to identify them, select facilities, places to live, and it needs to start soon enough. We have a matter of weeks, but no further than within which we can make these definitions.”
Emmert also said he admits that when students return to campus, they want to know if they are going to the championship. “The decision to end the March Madness and the Frozen Four and the spring championships was horrible,” he said. “… You turn around and talk to coaches and kids and hear what it means for them to have the season disrupted, it’s awful to do. The first and most important thing is what it means to the students.”
Part of the reason the NCAA is concerned about travel restrictions during the fall championships is what was recently seen from the Major League Baseball, where a coronavirus rash in Miami Marlins has caused concern in all sports.
“I wasn’t exactly surprised,” Emmert said. “It seems to me that moving teams across the country will be a difficult task. I would be amazed if we got into fall sports in college sports, that we don’t have that. It’s not whether someone gets off the virus, it’s that what do you do when it happens to me. “
Despite the comparison, Emmert noted that there are big differences between professional and college sports.
“I talked to dozens of students,” he said. “They want to go to campus, they want to play, they want it back to something like normal. We all want everything to be normal on campus, but the fact that nothing will be normal on campus is any campus. It creates all sorts of challenges and challenges for college sports.It’s easy to think of college sports as an analogue of professional sports, but professional sports leagues have about 30. We have 19,000 NCAA teams in all three seasons, and in the fall we we will hold 22 championships. The idea to make everything fit into everything that looks normal is to say at least. “
He explained that due to the wide scope of the NCAA, he believes that having a “king of football in college” is “completely unrealistic.”
“It would be great for the king of football to stand up and say, ‘We’re going to play!’ “or ‘We’re not going to play!'” “Sure, that’s great,” he said, “but it’s just unrealistic, and it’s definitely not suitable for college sports. It’s college students, and they’re in 1,100 different colleges. It’s not the NBA bubble. The bubble in sports colleges. It’s just not the way we can or should act. “
“For fans and others who say, ‘Well, drive like the NBA,'” he said. “It’s a very pleasant idea, but it’s completely unrealistic and unacceptable for college athletes.”