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

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Walt Brown, 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 Brown.

Brown, 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,” Brown 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? 

Brown 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, Brown 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.

Sports Will Return Under Phase Two Of Massachusetts Reopening

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By NoontimeSports.com 

The amateur, adult, and youth sports world received some good news today from the state of Massachusetts.

As announced earlier today during Governor Charlie Baker‘s press breifing, sports will be able to return in some capacity during the second phase of the state’s reopening.

The second phase of the Massachusetts reopening plan is scheduled for Monday, June 8.

“Today, we are releasing guidance and workplace safety standards for these outdoor adult sports, youth sports, and summer sports camps,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito during Wednesday’s briefing with the media. “This guidance includes guidelines for facility opperators, as well as activity organizers.

“As part of phase two, outdoor athletic facilities can be open for organized youth and adult sports activities in accordance with the guidance. Games, scrimmages, and tournaments are currently not permitted for any organized sports activities and contact sports must limit activities to no contact drills and practices.”

In addition to outdoor activities, the state has outlined plans for restrictions for indoor facilities “to supervised sports programs and sports campus for youths under the age of 18.”

Gov. Baker announced last week that the state’s professional sports teams would be able to hold practices, beginning Saturday, June 6. That is the same date both Baker and his administration are planning to provide Massachusetts residents with additional information on the second phase.

Wednesday’s announcement, along with the executive order Gov. Baker outlined earlier this week should be viewed as a positive step – a small one, of course – with restarting athletic events. It does not mean, however, that games and events can resume as they once did a few months ago.

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).

2020 Boston Marathon Canceled, Runners To Compete Virtually

440px-Boston_Marathon_logo.svgBy NoontimeSports.com  

The 2020 Boston Marathon will not be held in September. Instead, runners will be able to complete the 26.2-mile course virtually, according to the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.).

The news of the marathon being canceled was announced earlier today by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. It was then followed by a press release from the BAA, which announced the 124th running of the Boston Marathon would be held virtually.

“The Boston Athletic Association, with our input and support, has determined that the traditional one-day running of the 124th Boston Marathon is not feasible this year for public health reasons,” Walsh said during today’s press briefing.

Walsh noted the city is not ready to host an event like the Boston Marathon, which attracts not just runners, but fans that are standing in “close proximity” along the course.

Boston currently has 12,634 cases of the coronavirus (Covid-19) but has seen 6,272 recovered.

Tom Grilk, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Boston Athletic Association, expressed the organization’s top priority is protecting the safety of everyone, including the volunteers, spectators, and supporters.

“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon,” Grilk said in today’s release.

Those who were scheduled to run the race will be offered a full refund of their entry fee, according to today’s announcement from the BAA. They will also be invited to participate in the virtual marathon, which will take place from September 7-14.

Today’s announcement marks the first time the Boston Marathon has been canceled.

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.”