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NCAA Requires Individual Divisions to Decide their Own Approaches to Fall Athletic Seasons

Football

Early August normally marks the beginning of college football preseason, but (and stop us if you’ve heard this one before) COVID-19 is forcing some changes. As conferences continue to announce adjustments to their schedules, players are joining forces to demand safer conditions, while one school has suspended its football season altogether.

August 06, 2020
 SAMUEL STRINGER/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES
SAMUEL STRINGER/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Early August normally marks the beginning of college football preseason, but (and stop us if you’ve heard this one before) COVID-19 is forcing some changes. As conferences continue to announce adjustments to their schedules, players are joining forces to demand safer conditions, while one school has suspended its football season altogether.

Whew. What’s going down?: After reading the letters and hearing the demands from college football players in the Pac-12 and Big Ten (so proud of Gen Z these days), the NCAA Board of Governors finally announced their requirements to conduct fall sports.

  • Yesterday, they released a v. long list of COVID-19 precautions, including permitting all athletes to opt out of fall sports while requiring their scholarships to still be honored (small wins!), but gave no real guidance on how to proceed. Interesting.
     
  • Instead, the NCAA tasked individual divisions with making their own decisions regarding the fall athletic season. Both Division II and III have canceled all fall sports championships, leaving Division I to make their final decision by August 21st. *deep breaths*

Breathing deeply. You mentioned a team already opted out?: UConn became the first FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) team to suspend its season due to COVID-19 concerns. While the Huskies aren’t typically title contenders in college football (they went 2-10 last year), this is still a BFD. Good on them for putting player safety first!

So will more teams suspend their season?: While we hope more schools will study the data and make decisions that protect their players, we think this decision will be all about the Benjamins. Canceling the entire college football season would result in $4 billion (!!!) in lost revenue, so we expect most teams to go ahead with their season. But hey, maybe they can use some of that cash to address player demands and safety.