NCAA President Mark Emmert Is Concerned About Fall Sports

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NCAA President Mark Emmert said no games will be played this fall without students back on campus. (PHOTO COURTESY: Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

By Matt Noonan

As we continue to inch closer toward a brand new college sports season, specifically college football, there seems to be some concern from NCAA President Mark Emmert regarding what various seasons will look like this fall during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

In a recent podcast appearance on The Comeback: COVID-19 and the Return of Sports from The Athletic, Emmert told host Seth Davis that the current situation is “very, very fluid,” and that whatever happens with fall sports will certainly be different than prior years.

“What we do know for sure is whatever occurs it’s going to be different,” said Emmert, who previously stated during an NCAA Social Series last month on Twitter that college athletics could not occur if students were not on campus.

As for what the upcoming football season looks like, including here in New England, Emmert told Davis that it won’t be what “we’re custom to seeing it year in and year out.”

Earlier this week, we learned Bowdoin College would not be playing football this fall – maybe this spring? – while Morehouse College announced today that its cross country nor football teams would not be competing for Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championships this fall. 

The Patriot League announced its plans for the upcoming fall sports season on Monday, which included guidelines for its seven members that play football. Teams will not be allowed to fly to away games while the league stated that “with rare exceptions, the regular-season competition will exclude overnight travel.” 

Holy Cross, which captured the Patriot League crown last fall with a 24-0 victory over Georgetown University, shouldn’t have to fly too many games this fall as eight of its current contests, including three conference matchups, are scheduled to take place in either Massachusetts or Connecticut. However, the Crusaders’ season-opener against Merrimack College on Thursday, September 3 could be canceled due to the league not allowing its members to compete against non-conference foes until Friday, September 4. 

As of today, we are 10 weeks away from the first official weekend of college football in New England as well as 69 days away from watching a slew of teams kick-off their respective campaigns on Thursday, September 3, including Bentley University, University of Connecticut and University of Massachusetts Amherst

Will games begin on time or be pushed back to later in September? Could we see games moved to October, November, or even December? What about pushing back the season until next spring? 

No matter what, Emmert knows the upcoming college sports season will look so much different than it has previously and may only feature conference or in-state contests along with a slew of regional games.

“Nobody can predict anything with certainty and so therefore you shouldn’t rule anything out,” said Emmert. 

“I certainly think that sitting here today that there will be football in the fall. I think it will be different in many respects whether it’s the audiences in attendance or not in attendance, whether it’s the nature of the schedule, whether it’s the length of the season – you know, all of those things will be different and certainly the protocol and the way the games are played and the healthcare that surrounding that has got to be different.” 

Dr. Fauci Is Not Sure If Students Will Be On College Campuses This Fall

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Dr. Anthony Fauci is not certain that students will return to campus this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Mandel Ngan / AFP – Getty Images/NBCNews.com)

By Matt Noonan

Speaking earlier today at a Senate hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, hinted that it might not be wise for college campuses to welcome back its students for the fall semester.

Fauci was asked about college campuses reopening its doors to students by Senator Lamar Alexander and admitted he would feel a lot safer with a vaccine to protect the student body.

“If this were a situation where we had a vaccine, that would really be the end of that issue in a positive way,” said Fauci to Alexander.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if a vaccine will be available for college students, along with faculty and staff for the upcoming fall semester, but Fauci does hope that one of the eight vaccines that are currently being developed will be in “advanced trials by late fall or early winter.”

If students are not able to return to college campuses, then it is highly doubtful that we will see athletic events take place, including football. The NCAA president Mark Emmert said last Friday that if no students were on campus this fall, then no games will be played.

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.

NCAA’s Emmert Says No Fall Sports Without Students On Campus

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NCAA President Mark Emmert said no games will be played this fall without students back on campus. (PHOTO COURTESY: Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

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.

COVID-19 Cancels March Madness, NCAA Winter & Spring Championships

By Matt Noonan 

Due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the NCAA has decided to cancel both its winter and spring championships for all three divisions, including March Madness, which was supposed to occur next week without fans in the stands.

The announcement of the cancelations was made this afternoon through a statement, which was seen both on the NCAA website and social media. The statement from the NCAA was the following:

Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.

Shortly after the cancelations were announced, D3Hoops.com confirmed both D-III tournaments were canceled, including contests that were scheduled to take place this weekend at Amherst CollegeBowdoin College, and Tufts University.

As noted in the report on D3Hoops.com this afternoon, the Tufts men’s basketball team learned of the news on a bus ride to Brockport, New York. The Jumbos were scheduled to tip-off on Saturday, March 14th against the College of Brockport in the third round of the NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Prior to the NCAA announcement, multiple professional leagues began suspending its current season, including Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL). Additionally, both Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MLB) announced they would be delaying the start of their respective seasons for two weeks.

Finally, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) announced they were canceling both its basketball and hockey championships this weekend.