NCAA President Mark Emmert ruled that there won’t be a mandated or uniform return for college sports but that local governments and individual schools are at liberty in deciding when to resume athletics.
The NCAA halted all athletic competition in mid-March due to the coronavirus. March Madness was among the many championships cancelled for winter sports while the entirety of the spring sports calendar was axed as well. Campuses across the country have finished the semester with students learning from home and in conjunction with local authorities, schools are now tasked with deciding the future of college athletics.
“Normally, there’s an agreed-upon start date for every sport, every season but under these circumstances, now that’s all been derailed by the pandemic,” Emmert told ESPN this week. “It won’t be the conferences that can do that either. It will be the local and state health officials that say whether or not you can open and play football with fans.”
Emmert mentioned a consensus from several Pac-12 football coaches hoping to get a mandated start date and national guidelines from the NCAA. However, he is leaving the final call to be up to local officials and individual campuses to decide what is best for that school’s community.
“The Pac-12 can say, ‘Gee, we’d all like to open up on this date,’ but whether or not you can is going to be ultimately up to the state and local health officials and the campus itself making a decision whether or not they want to go forward,” Emmert explained.
Decisions regarding fall classes have already been made for the California State University system, which 23 holds schools. Classes will continue to be held virtually though officials are open to exploring solutions for fall sports despite the complexities. Emmert last week shared his belief that campuses need to be open for all students, not just student-athletes, in order for sports to resume.
“Certainly, all conversations are led by academics, as well as public health and safety. Within that framework, more determinations are necessary,” Fresno State president Joseph Castro, San Diego State president Adela de la Torre and San Jose State president Mary Papazian said in a joint statement with Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson. “All three institutions will work closely with the Mountain West. No decisions on athletics have been made.”