Noontime Commentary: Early Thoughts On The Upcoming Fall Sports Season

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The upcoming fall sports season could look a bit different than past years. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

Last Friday, we received some insight from NCAA president Mark Emmert about what fans and followers of college athletics should expect for the upcoming fall sports season. And it doesn’t sound like business as usual due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Speaking with host Andy Katz on the NCAA’s Twitter handle, Emmert announced that sporting events and games will not occur without students on campus. He also emphasized that some teams could compete immediately while others may not be able to, especially if campuses remain closed and classes are held virtually.

And just for those keeping track at home, I paraphrased “immediately” – he did not say that word!  

The thought of seeing some teams compete in late August or early September is something I believe could happen. But which schools will be able to roll out the footballs and soccer balls at the end of the summer is a mystery.

Could we see the University of Alabama or the University of Texas at Austin compete right away or will both institutions have to delay the start of their respective fall sports season?

What about schools in California, Washington, or even Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island? Will they be able to play some games in late September or early October?

Could we see schools reopen in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, but not in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island? And would those schools be able to play games?

Should we expect fans on campus every Saturday to cheer on the Syracuse University football team?

Will, there be supporters at future Penn State University field hockey or soccer games?

These questions – and of course, others – are just a few on my mind, but the other thought percolating in my head is about scheduling. Could we see current games eliminated and new contests scheduled? I think so.

As much as I would love to say all games that are currently scheduled will happen would be hard to justify. Sure, many would love to circle the date for some must-see, must-follow contests later this year, especially a few local rivalries such as Harvard University vs. Yale University in football.

Additionally, I do anticipate some conferences (and leagues) will have to play each other more than once – maybe twice or three times? – especially if only a handful of schools are open in late August and early September.

And how about this thought: could we see some Division II teams playing against Division III squads, especially in the northeast? It would be fascinating to see (and watch) Assumption College square-off against WPI, but I don’t think that would happen.

Luckily, it is only May and we do have some time before the 2020 college sports season begins. But I do expect some announcements to occur about the future of fall sports in the coming weeks.

It is great to hear – and learn – about various schools planning to reopen (or be open) this fall, but with so much uncertainty these days, it just seems unlikely that college sports will look the same as they did in previous years come September and October.

Here’s hoping – and yes, some positive thoughts and vibes – but no matter who plays, we look forward to providing our audience with some coverage remotely.

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