by Riley Gates for Inside the Red Raiders
The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on sports has gone from canceling the 2020 NCAA Tournament, to now impacting the college football season in the fall. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen Power Five conferences alter their schedules to adapt to the pandemic.
While there is no official decision on the status of the fall championships throughout the NCAA, officials met regarding the decision. After an initial delay in July, the NCAA informed college leaders that a final decision on fall championships will come within the next two weeks.
According to Texas Longhorns reporter Ben Davis, the NCAA sent a letter to schools giving them their deadline on deciding the status of the fall championships.
“NCAA (sent) an email to college leaders today saying fall championships will be decided no later than Aug. 21,” Davis tweeted. “Phone line will be established to allow “athletes, parents or others” to report alleged COVID failures on campuses.”
According to a release from the NCAA, all three divisions must follow must follow their governance processes in making decisions.
“The first and most important consideration is whether sports can be conducted safely for college athletes,” Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and University of California system president said. “Each division must examine whether it has the resources available to take the required precautions given the spread of COVID-19.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert added his statement on the upcoming decision.
“Our decisions place emphasis where it belongs — on the health and safety of college athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “Student-athletes should never feel pressured into playing their sport if they do not believe it is safe to do so. These policies ensure they can make thoughtful, informed decisions about playing this fall.
“First and foremost, we need to make sure we provide a safe environment for college athletes to compete for an opportunity to play in NCAA championships. A decision based on the realities in each division will provide clarity for conferences and campuses as they determine how to safely begin the academic year and the return to sports.”
Prior to the NCAA’s announcement of fall sports championships, all five conferences in college football had made decisions on what the 2020 schedule was going to look like. The Big Ten, the Pac-12 and the SEC have all announced that their member schools will be playing only conference games this season. The Pac-12 has announced its 10-game schedule will begin on September 26, while the other two conferences playing conference-only schedules have yet to release their schedules.
While those three conferences are making those moves, the Big 12 and the ACC have both announced a format to play one nonconference team. The Big 12 will play nine conference games and one nonconference, while the ACC will play 10 conference games and one nonconference game as of now. Those schedules have not been revealed yet.
The decision by the NCAA comes just a little under two weeks after the NCAA decided to delay the call. On July 24, the NCAA was supposed to make this decision on fall sports, but rather decided to push it off until August.
“Today the Board of Governors and I agreed that we must continue to thoughtfully and aggressively monitor health conditions around the country and the implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines we issued last week,” Emmert said in a statement then, according to NBC Sports. “The health and well-being of college athletes is the highest priority in deciding whether to proceed with our 22 NCAA championships beginning in late November. We all remain deeply concerned about the infection trend lines we see. It is clear that the format of our championships will have to change if they are to be conducted in a safe and fair manner.
“We discussed other complexities in addition to the health and safety impacts, to include team availability, travel limitations and various local and state restrictions. We will continue our discussions in August.”