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.” 

Morehouse College Cancels Its Cross Country & Football Seasons

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Morehouse College announced on Friday, June 26 that they would be canceling their upcoming football season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Morehouse College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Fall sports won’t be taking place this year at Morehouse College, according to the school’s president, David A. Thomas, Ph.D., who penned a letter to his student-athletes earlier today, which was posted on the athletic department’s website.

Thomas expressed sympathy for both the school’s cross country and football programs, which won’t be competing this fall for a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championship, but did say the college “will honor all athletic scholarship awards.”

“I know this news will be most disappointing to our scholar-athletes, especially our seniors,” Thomas wrote in today’s letter. “I can only ask for your understanding and respect for the fact that the College is prioritizing your health and safety ahead of all else.”

A major reason why Thomas elected to cancel the upcoming fall sports season was due to concern that both teams wouldn’t be able to follow social distancing guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when competing against various opponents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Thomas did state in his letter that he hopes to welcome students back to campus in August and that decisions on winter and spring sports will be made later this year.

Morehouse College, which competes against other NCAA D-II athletic programs, becomes the third school to cancel its upcoming fall sports season after Bowdoin College and UMass Boston made a similar announcement earlier this week

The Maroon Tigers’ football team concluded its 2019 campaign with four wins while the Morehouse men’s cross country team placed fourth at the conference championship meet.