UMass’s Walt Bell Seems Optimistic For A College Football Season

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Walt Bell, who is entering his second season with the UMass football team, appears optimistic for a college football season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

By Matt Noonan 

As we continue to inch closer to July and August, the thought of college football seems to be on the minds of many these days, including the University of Massachusetts‘ Walt Bell.

Bell, who is entering his second season as the head coach of the Minutemen, seems optimistic for a season to occur this fall, despite so many questions swirling around the health and safety of both coaches and student-athletes.

“Every single day, you can start to see that snowball of positivity start to roll,” Bell said when speaking with Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle. “I know there will be football. I know in the majority of the country, there’s going to be football.”

Indeed, there will be football games played somewhere this fall, but will they occur in states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, which have been impacted by the coronavirus (Covid-19), remains an unknown? 

Bell did say that games will be played in Florida and Georgia, which certainly seems likely, especially after hearing Governor Ron DeSantis tell reporters last month that high school football fans “should absolutely assume” a season will happen later this year.

As of now, Bell and the Minutemen will keep their focus on staying connected through Zoom and FaceTime while thinking optimistically about the team’s season-opener against the University of Connecticut.

NCAA D-III Reduces Number Of Games Required For Championship Selection

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NCAA D-III Football teams will only need to compete in five games this season to be eligible for the postseason. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualunt.com)

By Matt Noonan

The upcoming NCAA D-III sports season will look a bit different than usual due to the ongoing pandemic, which brought an end to multiple winter championships in March, along with numerous spring sports seasons.

Yesterday the Division III Administrative Committee approved the recommendation from the Division III Membership and Championships Committee to allow its various members to compete in fewer contests than usual this upcoming school year – 33 percent less than normal, to be exact – so they can be eligible to contend for a national title.

The reduction of contests will allow each institution to remain in compliance to compete for a championship but also provide flexibility for athletic departments when it comes to scheduling to “seeking relief in the form of waivers.”

“We hope that a reduction in contest minimums will provide flexibility to our member schools as they work to reopen during what is a very uncertain and complex time,” said Tori Murden McClure, the chair of the committee and Spalding president, in Friday’s release. “We understand this won’t fix everything for everyone, but we believe it is the right move at this time and we will remain flexible moving forward.”

The flexibility will certainly help schools when it comes to reopening – it is possible some schools could start earlier or later like a slew of Division I institutions announced this month, including Notre Dame and Syracuse University.

Football teams, including those here in New England, would only need to compete in five contests this fall to be eligible to compete in the NCAA D-III postseason while basketball teams will need to play 12 contests.

As of now, it appears fall championships will occur, but those plans could be altered due to the coronavirus (Covid-19).

NCAA D-I Council Approves Voluntary Activities For Football & Basketball

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The NCAA D-I Council voted to end the current moratorium for sports through May 31st. (PHOTO COURTESY: VisualHunt.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Today was a good day for NCAA Division I basketball and football players.

The NCAA D-I Council voted to end the current moratorium this afternoon on all athletic activities through May 31 and allow student-athletes to return to their respective campus for summer workouts from June 1 to June 30.

The news of today’s announcement was confirmed and reported by Yahoo‘s Pete Thamel, as well as Sports Illustrated.

Student-athletes that compete in other sports, such as soccer or field hockey, could learn as soon as next week if they would be allowed to return to campus to start their training for hopefully a fall season.

While it is not expected that every student-athlete will bolt back to campus to begin their respective training, it is likely that schools will welcome back athletes that may be living on campus or nearby. Perhaps more athletes will follow – in fact, Thamel reported that some colleges could see up to 25 or 30 student-athletes on campus next month, but of course, social distancing will be enforced in weight rooms and other facilities

Today’s ruling could be the sign of more good news to come as the 2020 college football season is currently slated to commence at the end of August.

These upcoming workouts won’t be the same as they have been in the past, according to Sports Illusrtrated, which reported in its story that student-athletes would normally spend eight hours a week training, including six hours with their school’s training staff.

Testing Will Be The Key For College Football

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Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby knows testing will be key for college football players. (PHOTO COURTESY: Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News)

By Matt Noonan 

Testing, testing, and more testing will be the key for not just any organization to be safe and successful during the ongoing pandemic, but also college football. And that seemed to be the message from Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby when speaking earlier today alongside other college athletic officials during a webinar that was hosted by LEAD1 Association.

When it comes to college football, Bowlsby believes players will need to be tested for COVID-19 “probably every two or three days.” But testing, according to the Big 12 commissioner, isn’t the only thing schools must do to protect their student-athletes. Colleges will need to rethink how student-athletes enter and depart their athletic facilities to coming up with a plan with possibly redoing their locker rooms to making sure shared spaces are sanitized. And of course, the list goes on.

“There are things that are arduous and will take time and will be absolutely essential to the ongoing mitigation of the risks,” said Bowlsby.

Bowlsby admitted colleges, including the schools in his conference, will face different challenges with keeping student-athletes safe compared to professional leagues, which can implement different measures for its athletes. But while Bowlsby, as well as his colleagues, know challenges loom ahead, he does believe this “voyage” everyone is on must lead to innovative thinking with answering the question of how to return students to safely to the playing field.

Said Bowlsby, “This is going to be continual voyage of discovery, and we’ll have to innovate going forward to meet the demands.”

Notre Dame Will Welcome Back Students For The Fall Semester

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The University of Notre Dame logo. (PHOTO COURTESY: Wikipedia)

By NoontimeSports.com 

The University of Notre Dame is planning to open its doors for the fall semester. And classes – yes, classes – will be held in-person, not remotely.

Notre Dame, which shut its doors in mid-March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), announced earlier today that the fall semester will begin two weeks earlier than scheduled during the week of August 10 and conclude before Thanksgiving. Additionally, the school will not have an October break.

The University has canceled academic and summer programs through July 6, but the campus has been the home to some students “whose summer work is preparatory for the fall semester,” according to Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

“By far the most complex challenge before us is the return of our students to campus for the resumption of classes in the fall semester,” Father Jenkins wrote in today’s announcement about the upcoming fall semester.

While it will certainly be a challenge to bring every member of the student body, as well as the faculty and staff back to campus, Father Jenkins knows for Notre Dame will be prepared to carry out its safety plan, which will include testing, contact tracing, quarantining and isolating, along with social distancing and mask-wearing. Notre Dame said it plans to enhance its “cleaning of all campus spaces,” and has identified certain facilities to house those that test positive or came in contact with someone that has the virus. They also plan to develop signage while utilizing various forms of communication to stay in touch with the campus community.

“As we adapt to the new normal brought on by the coronavirus, we will do everything we can to provide you with a safe learning, research, and working environment,” Jenkins wrote.

While the news should certainly spark excitement for Notre Dame students, there was however, nothing reported about sporting events, including the university’s football team, which is scheduled to play its first game of the 2020 season at home on September 12 against Arkansas