This past July, the Ivy League announced that it would not hold any athletic activity the rest of the year. Several FCS conferences, which are included in the NCAA Division 1-AA, went down next, and it now appears that the dominoes continue to fall. The Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC), which comprises 18 colleges that compete in the NCAA Division III, has now become the first FBS conference to waive the white flag and surrender to the coronavirus. This is not boding well for all college football – or any other sport – this fall, and at least a couple of college athletic directors (AD) are now almost 100% certain that sports fans can forget about watching any college football games this year.
Two ADs spoke with Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports recently, providing their take on the subject of fall sports. One is an established AD at a Power Five school, and he said, “It’s not fair what we’re doing to our coaches and student-athletes. The sooner we can come to a finality, the better.” He added, “I’m of the opinion it’s when, not if [the 2020 season is canceled. The MAC announcement] adds more momentum to the finish line. I think everyone’s medical group is now all telling them the same thing. We all keep having the same conversations.”
The other, also a Power Five AD, added, “I think it’s inevitable [the season will not be played in the fall].” They both chose to remain anonymous due to the lack of any official position from the NCAA or individual teams.
With the MAC standing down, the remaining nine FBS conferences are predicted to follow suit. One school involved, the University of Connecticut, plays in the NCAA Division I and the Big East Conference, and announced last week that it had canceled its fall sports programs. Leaders of the Big Ten and the PAC-12 met independently this weekend to discuss their options, and the rumors are that the Big Ten leadership is overwhelmingly in favor of dropping sports. The conference already canceled practices, and commissioner Kevin Warren has said he is “very concerned” about the possibility of seeing fall college football.
The second AD with whom Dodd spoke gave his take on how things could play out now. He predicts, “The Pac-12 will be next and then the Big Ten. The Big Ten just going to no contact, what’s that going to do for you? With California being so prominent [with the coronavirus], I see the Pac-12 getting out there next. We’ve all done it. We’ve all said, ‘Let’s keep pushing, keep pushing [to play].’ I thought that was the best strategy. It’s certainly not playing out that way. Now, it’s just water torture.”
If college ball is forced to come to a halt, there’s still a good chance that NFL football will move forward. However, that could change, as well, as the league has not come up with a solid plan to address COVID-19. With the regular season scheduled to start just a month from now, there’s a lot of work to be done and not much time in which to do it.