As sports across the country start discussing their returns from the coronavirus shutdown, collegiate athletics are going to have some decisions to make come this fall. Plenty of safety measures have been put in place for college students for the rest of the semester, including the athletes.
Public health issues are going to be at the forefront for the NCAA. Recruiting, practicing, and even regular seasons may see a large impact for a little while longer.
The NCAA website reads:
“The NCAA continues to closely monitor COVID-19 and is taking proactive measures to mitigate the impact of the virus. When it comes to decision-making, our commitment is this: protect the health and safety of college athletes.”
Testing has been a key element in strategies to bring sports back while the virus remains a hurdle. The UFC has been one of the first to test all of the athletes prior to an event.
The head doctor of the NCAA, Dr. Brian Hainline, discussed the caution and need for testing if sports are going to happen this fall.
“It’s not going to be risk-free, that’s for sure,” Hainline said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If this is rolled out in stages and reasonably, we’re really paying attention to proper surveillance, and we get the tests available, I think we can have fall sports. My concern is if we just rush into this too quickly because of this almost sense of desperation that we just have to get going.”
The NCAA has stated that once COVID-19 infection rates have diminished for at least three weeks, there can begin further efforts to begin athletics. They have announced a three-phase plan that they will be using to get things back to normal. Opening practice facilities is involved in phase three.
Hainline has said that there has to be a remarkable turnaround to see stadiums full of fans for a football game this fall. However, there is still optimism that a season will occur.
Changes That Could Be Made
The Pac-12 is already predicting that the coronavirus will still be an issue during football season. Its strategy could be changing the layout of the season.
They have discussed in meeting to only play in conference matchups. This would allow the teams to travel, but only on the West Coast. While this could help the traveling issue, it takes away some big out of conference matchups.
“That is one of the many structures as we go through this situation and this crisis that is a possibility of an all-conference schedule,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “That is one of the structures under discussion, depending on where we are at six to eight weeks from now. Those are viable discussions, and it has been brought up in our meetings.”
There are no doubts that football coaches will make some changes in the locker room. Coach Mack Brown of North Carolina has been one of the first to announce he will be implementing social distancing in the football offices.
The main goal right now is to get this student-athletes together again on campus to prepare for the season. The next question will soon arise: How much time do they need together before the season begins?