By Matt Noonan
The question of if and when will sports return continues to be on the mind of many these days, including those that follow college athletics.
Schools, both here in New England and around the country, are eager to welcome their students back to campus this fall, but will it happen remains an unknown. However, the NCAA‘s president Mark Emmert did provide some insight into what we should expect this fall if students were to not able to return to campus due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“You can’t have college sports if you don’t have colleges open and having students on them,” Emmert said during last night’s ‘NCAA Social Series’ on Twitter.
The NCAA president would go onto add that “there’s anxiety as you’d expect because of the high level of uncertainty.”
Indeed, many are anxious for life to slowly return to some sense of normalcy, and sports would ease that tension, but only if it is done safely.
The NCAA unveiled its nine-step, three-phase plan for schools – both big and small – last week that will help each institution return its student-athletes back on the playing field. But which schools will return to the playing field immediately remains an unknown. Emmert believes not every institution will be able to compete in late August or early September, which will most likely result in changes to current schedules.
“It strikes me that it’s very unlikely that we’ll reach a place sometime this summer where everybody feels equally confident and equally comfortable because this is so differentiated by geographies and urban density and a whole array of different demographic variables that the level of confidence is going to vary from campus to campus,” said Emmert.
Luckily, the fall sports season is a few months away, so schools and conferences do have time to prepare for what the upcoming college season could look like. But as Emmert reassured his listeners, the NCAA’s biggest priority remains the safety of its student-athletes, coaches, and team representatives.
“We’ve got to keep student-athletes and all students and their staffs, and the coaches, and everybody around them healthy and safe,” he said. “That’s got to be the number one priority.”
Emmert knows the 2020-21 school year will be a bit different, but he seems focused on making the best of the situation.