As UofL Lays Out Plan, So Do Conferences
You'll have to forgive me, as today's entry won't be specifically about the joy and excitement of UofL women's athletics, but the decisions made by other programs and conferences will impact the future of college athletics as a whole. You'll just have to take my word for it that it's related. You'll forgive me if I'm a little cranky today, as I should be on my way to Indianapolis for two great days of fast cars and fun for the Indy 500 Weekend. Alas, that will have to wait until August (I hope). Given the positive news over the last few days as reopening plans are underway, I'll keep today's article a bit more upbeat than last week's as we look on the brighter side of possibilities.
Paulie wrote yesterday about UofL's plan to reopen the campus to athletes under a phased capacity. It included a mention of the NCAA's plan as well, which should be viewed as the minimum restriction in this case. The NCAA has indicated that other plans created by schools and conferences should not exceed that restriction, explaining why UofL will have some student-athletes return to campus this week but they will not allow any workouts until the following week. We could get in to why the athletes that are returning were selected such as they were, but I said I'd keep it upbeat so we'll skip that conversation.
As UofL announced their plan, though, many other bodies were at work coming up with similar ideas. In the ACC, Florida State has reportedly already tested its first wave of players on campus as they prepare for June workouts, which have not yet been announced. Syracuse is working on their return as well but do not have a firm plan in place. The ACC has decided not to hold a formal vote on the return of players to campuses, following only the NCAA guidelines and leaving the rest up to each school. FSU and Syracuse's plans are both for football only.
The SEC held their vote on the matter yesterday, after the "Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force" that the conference established in April returned its recommendations. After a vote by university presidents, the conference commissioner issued a statement indicating that on-campus workouts will return in limited capacity on June 8th and that the conference is anticipating an on-time start for the fall sports calendar. The SEC's statement did not specifically indicate which sports were allowed under this plan but they did increase the amount of virtual film time allowed for football and basketball. While it appears that the move by the SEC was directed at football, Florida has created their own plan to reintegrate student-athletes onto campus in waves. Per ESPN, their plan includes football, volleyball, and soccer.
Also according to ESPN's sources, the Big Ten will not hold a formal vote, similar to the ACC, leaving it up to member institutions instead. A couple of those institutions, Ohio State and Illinois, have already issued their plans to varying degrees of specificity. Ohio State will return to action on June 8th, with Illinois setting a more vague "mid-June" timeline. In other news, Ohio State has apparently been doing some budgeting for the upcoming season, with game models for football trying to incorporate social distancing for fans. It's still unclear if there will be fans in any seats, but OSU is modeling between 20-50% capacity.
Similarly, the governor of Texas indicated he expected "some level" of fans would be able to attend college football games when the sport returned to the state this fall. The Big 12 didn't mention much about that in particular, but they did vote on a plan to get student-athletes back to their campuses. Football players will be allowed to return on June 15th, with the remaining fall sports athletes being allowed back on July 1st. Winter sports have a return designation of July 15th. This was the most inclusive plan I could find.
That leaves us with just the PAC-12 in the Power 5 circle. What will they do? Well, their current plan includes a moratorium until at least May 31st. The conference CEOs will meet next week and will vote on allowing the conference to follow in the footsteps of the NCAA. The PAC-12 has long been one of the bigger question marks regarding the return to college athletics, as the West Coast has been hit by the pandemic relatively hard and the California college and university systems are usually leaders in regulation. There have been rumblings out of the state that schools may not even return to on-campus learning in the fall semester. No on-campus classes would certainly mean no on-campus athletes. The conference will be the last domino to fall on whether college football will plan on having a normal season, or if the 2020 college football season records will be filled with uneven records, full conference schedules, or a lot of local games.
Another interesting point that has been brought up by PAC-12 adjacents is the cost of testing. An estimate showed that the cost of testing a football program for the coronavirus could be up to $300,000 over the course of the season. However, per NCAA regulations, student-athletes cannot receive additional benefits. There's also the bit that if everyone is on campus, you can hardly maintain an effective quarantine of student-athletes. Combining those two things leads to a need to test everyone on campus, probably more than once, which led to an estimate of over $100 million for the year. That's a prohibitive cost.
As Paulie said yesterday, all we can do is wait and see what will come next. That universities and conferences are making plans under the advisement of experts and working toward a smart and safe solution is encouraging. We'll keep looking for the bodies in charge to follow the likes of the Big 12 and UF to make these plans more inclusive and not so transparently fiscally driven so that we can get all of the athletes that deserve the opportunity to play back on the same level.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
We'll be back this week with another episode of the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast, hopefully with fewer technical snafus than last week. Anticipate another quiz, where we may or may not steal each others' answers. We'll discuss the goings-on in UofL news this week as well as the aforementioned reopening plans in college athletics. Be sure to tune in to the Cardinal Couple YouTube Channel at 11AM for the live show. As always, the show remains on YouTube after so catch the broadcast any time after it ends.
Until next time, Go Cards!