The coronavirus and college sports: NCAA reopening plans, latest news, program cuts, more

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rattle the college sports landscape, leaving many questions unanswered.

But before a new normal can begin to take shape, colleges and universities will have to find a safe way to reopen campuses. Complex, high-stakes public health issues need to be dealt with before there is a good sense of what college sports will look like.

Here is the latest news and updates from the college sports world.

Latest news: SEC sets its plan in motion

Friday, May 22

The SEC announced athletes can begin using facilities on campus for voluntary workouts June 8 under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each university. Presidents and chancellors from the SEC’s 14 universities made the final call after extensive conversations within the league involving commissioner Greg Sankey, athletic directors and medical officials.

Big Ten leaving decisions up to individual schools: The Big Ten is not expected to make a league-wide announcement on athletes returning to campus, leaving the decision to individual schools, league sources told ESPN on Friday. The conference will defer to NCAA rulings and guidelines with each campus, state and local area.

Thursday, May 21

Nick Saban scolds Crimson Tide mascot for lack of mask in PSA

Alabama coach Nick Saban scolded Crimson Tide mascot Big Al for not wearing a mask and not maintaining proper social distancing as part of a public service announcement released Thursday by Alabama football. It’s the latest PSA that Saban has participated in since the coronavirus pandemic shut down college sports more than two months ago.

Wednesday, May 20

Ohio State game models show potential for 20,000-50,000 fans

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said his athletic department has run several social distancing models to consider having fans in stands at games this fall. Ohio Stadium, with a normal capacity of more than 100,000, would hold closer to 20,000-22,000 fans but up to 40,000-50,000 “if guidelines are relaxed.” … “We’ve played with that a little bit as a framework to start as we move forward and think about what we’d ultimately be allowed to do,” Smith told reporters, before later clarifying the low-end estimate in a tweet.

Voluntary on-campus activities to resume in football, basketball starting June 1

The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to allow voluntary on-campus athletic activities to resume in football, and men’s and women’s basketball starting June 1, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN. After the coronavirus pandemic forced the shut down of sports across the country, the council banned all on-campus athletic activities. That moratorium was set to expire May 31.

Tuesday, May 19

Bowlsby: Big 12 needs to be ‘up and running’ by mid-July for football season to start on time

The Big 12 conference doesn’t have a date yet for its sports to resume, but commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Tuesday the league needs to be “up and running” by mid-July if the college football season is going to start on time.

COVID impact: How do schools test, recruit and stay afloat?

100 days to college football? The biggest questions as the sport looks to return: The college football season is slated to begin in 100 days, highlighted by Notre Dame-Navy in Dublin, Ireland. Here’s the latest as the sport’s power brokers try to find a way to save the season. Read

No football would cost $4B, alter college sports: As more college athletic departments cut sports programs, the financial wreckage is becoming clear. And it gets even worse if college football doesn’t return. Read

College recruiting challenges during the coronavirus pandemic: With the state of college football and basketball in limbo, coaches and recruits across the country have had to find new ways to go about age-old practices during the spring. Read

Power 5 conferences: When will sports return?

As states begin to initiate phases re-openings throughout the country, schools and athletic programs are also beginning to set new protocols for students and student-athletes. Right now, college football season is tentatively scheduled to start on Aug. 29; and while there is still no definitive timetable for college sports to return across the board, the May 31 moratorium that was imposed in March at the onset of the pandemic is quickly expiring.

Here is a school-by-school breakdown of dates for stages of reopening in each Power 5 conference (*-denotes Notre Dame as independent):

ACC

The ACC announced it would leave it up to individual universities to determine when to start opening up campuses and athletic facilities. Here are the dates we know so far:

Boston College: TBD.
Clemson: TBD.
Duke: TBD.
Florida State: TBD.
Georgia Tech: TBD.
Louisville: June 8
Miami: TBD.
North Carolina: TBD.
NC State: TBD.
Pittsburgh: TBD.
Syracuse: TBD.
Virginia: TBD.
Virginia Tech : TBD.
Wake Forest: TBD.
*-Notre Dame: TBD.

Big Ten

While the Big Ten said it will leave plans up to individual schools, Illinois announced detailed plans for its athletes to return for voluntary activities beginning in mid-June. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told reporters earlier this week that its athletes would begin returning to campus June 8, pending university approval. Here are the latest dates:

Illinois: Mid-June (voluntary on-campus workouts).
Indiana: TBD.
Iowa: TBD.
Maryland: TBD.
Michigan: TBD.
Michigan State: TBD.
Minnesota: TBD.
Nebraska: TBD.
Northwestern: TBD.
Ohio State: June 8 (voluntary on-campus workouts).
Penn State: TBD.
Purdue: TBD.
Rutgers: TBD.
Wisconsin: TBD.

Big 12

Baylor: TBD.
Iowa State: TBD.
Kansas: TBD.
Kansas State: TBD.
Oklahoma: TBD.
Oklahoma State: TBD.
TCU: TBD.
Texas: TBD.
Texas Tech: TBD.
West Virginia: TBD.

Pac-12

Earlier this month, the 23-school California State University system announced it would primarily remain in a virtual learning model this fall, raising questions about the ability for member schools to field athletic teams for the rest of 2020. Here are the Pac-12 school breakdowns:

Arizona: TBD.
Arizona State: TBD.
California: TBD.
UCLA: TBD.
Colorado: TBD.
Oregon: TBD.
Oregon State: TBD.
USC: TBD.
Stanford: TBD.
Utah: TBD.
Washington: TBD.
Washington State: TBD.

SEC

Alabama: TBD.
Arkansas: TBD.
Auburn: TBD.
Florida: TBD.
Georgia: TBD.
Kentucky: TBD.
LSU: TBD.
Ole Miss: TBD.
Mississippi State: TBD.
Missouri: TBD.
South Carolina: TBD.
Tennessee: TBD.
Texas A&M: TBD.
Vanderbilt: TBD.

College Football Playoff: Will there be one?

CFP officials have stated they are moving forward with a plan to still have a Playoff as scheduled. Here is the latest news:

  • No change to CFP format or selection protocols

  • Mike Pence, CFP committee discuss college sports’ differing dynamics

  • CFP director Hancock: We’re planning on playoff

Schools that have cut pay, programs, staff

A day after the University of Cincinnati announced it would permanently cut its men’s soccer program, a letter from five conference commissioners to NCAA president Emmert asked, in part, for the NCAA to lift rules that require Division I schools to sponsor at least 16 varsity sports.

Here are other programs that have disbanded, plus schools that have made staffing changes and pay cuts:

  • Minnesota, Wisconsin thrown for losses in sports budget crunch

  • Cincinnati drops men’s soccer program amid “widespread uncertainty”

  • Old Dominion cuts wrestling, citing financial impact of coronavirus

  • Louisville furloughs 45 athletic department staffers, others take 4% pay cut

  • Boise State coaches, athletics staff to be furloughed

  • Colorado athletic director, three head coaches to take 10% pay cuts

  • Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck confirms taking unpaid week

  • Syracuse coaches Jim Boeheim, Dino Babers take voluntary pay cuts

  • Rutgers athletic director, three highest-paid coaches taking pay cuts

  • Kansas’ Les Miles, Bill Self, Jeff Long take salary cuts

  • Texas Tech to trim $7 million from athletic budget

  • Kansas State football, men’s hoops coach agree to salary reduction

  • Arizona’s Sean Miller, Kevin Sumlin among coaches taking 20% pay cut

  • Report: Florida International AD defers year’s salary amid furloughs

  • Akron to eliminate 3 sports in cost-cutting move

  • Bowling Green ends baseball program to save $500K

  • Furman eliminates baseball, men’s lacrosse

  • Central Michigan stops track amid coronavirus pandemic

  • South Carolina football, basketball coaches among those taking 10% pay cut

  • East Carolina eliminates swimming and diving, tennis programs

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