Commissioners of major national college football conferences held a 30-minute conference call with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday and stressed that college sports cannot come back from the closure of the coronavirus before the campuses reopen.
The 10 commissioners, as well as the Notre-Dame sports director, make up the college football qualifying management committee.
“We were able to talk about the differences between us and professional sports,” said American Athletics Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco. “We talked about how academics and university athletics were inseparable. “
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Pence had asked good questions and was “full of hope and optimism” about fighting coronavirus. The pandemic has closed all major sporting events since mid-March and forced colleges to close campuses and move courses online.
The White House has said it is important to reopen the US economy, although the details of how this will happen will be complicated and will likely involve local, state and federal security directives. President Donald Trump has also entered professional sports leagues with the pending multi-billion dollar sports industry.
College football is slated to begin on Labor Day weekend, but many questions remain unanswered for a sport that is the cornerstone of many athletics departments.
“(We) have expressed concern that we want to go back to the idea that kids go to college and open our colleges and universities,” said Bowlsby. “Until that happened, we weren’t going to play sports.”
The commissioners would like to see major college football start across the country at the same time, which could be difficult depending on how the pandemic fades.
“We discussed a little bit about whether there would be a national policy, because obviously if the governors have different policies, you’re going to have problems,” said Aresco. “If California doesn’t allow football and Ohio, it will be a problem for what is obviously a national business. “
Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, said in a Snapchat interview that sporting events are unlikely to happen this summer with a lot of crowds.
Bowlsby said another call with the vice president was likely in about a month.
College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, who was also in attendance, said that the January 1 semi-finals in New Orleans and Pasadena, California, and the January 11 championship game in Miami were still in progress.
“I was pleased to know that the vice president understands the importance of college football,” said Hancock.
The size of the season is daunting, with more than 1,500 regular season games for 130 schools in the Bowl Division alone, the highest level of NCAA football. Each team plays 12 regular season games and each conference plays a lucrative championship game.
Division I colleges, including about 120 who play second level football or not at all, have already suffered a financial blow with the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. in March. Some $ 375 million will not be distributed to them this year.
Not playing a football season could be even more expensive. This would jeopardize the television contracts that pay hundreds of millions to the so-called Power Five conferences. The other five FBS conferences draw much less television rights, but their schools are still heavily dependent on football income.
College football playoffs, including the main bowl games known as the New Year’s Six, pay about $ 674 million per season. Most of these funds are donated to conferences and passed on to member schools.
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