Amid widespread shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Iowa imposed a moratorium on all athletics-related activities through June 1.
“We’re ever so hopeful that this virus will be behind us at that point, and we’ll be able to get back to what we normally would do,” UI President Bruce Harreld told the Board of Regents on Thursday.
That includes Hawkeye football practice. The team already missed this its spring practice.
“Right now, June 1 is the date we’re going to get back to practice,” Harreld said.
Medical experts and trainers have advised players need “six to eight weeks of good practice” to stay safe, according to Harreld.
“I’m sure our coaches would love a lot more time so that they can make them winners,” he said. “But the key issue here is we can say we need six to eight weeks.”
He was joined by the great state of Texas shortly thereafter.
The most visible public universities in Texas are moving toward reopening their campuses in the fall — and two say they plan to play football when they do.
On Thursday, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told all 11 university presidents in the system that they will reopen their campuses next school year and be ready to play sports, a university system official confirmed to The Texas Tribune. Texas Tech University has also announced that it plans to resume on-campus classes in the fall, and university President Lawrence Schovanec told the Tribune that Tech is planning to play sports, too, though it’s unlikely either school will be able to bring back sports like football on its own.
To their credit, I guess, none of them were comfortable extending the picture to fans in the stands. That didn’t stop our own Jere Morehead.
“Our hope at this point, our expectation at this point is that we’ll have a normal football season and be able to play all of our games,” Morehead said. “We’re certainly working toward that goal. I think as time goes by and we see the course of the pandemic, we’ll have a better sense of when, for example, have football players back on campus. That’s a key issue because the football players need to get into conditioning. They need to be involved in practice. We didn’t have spring practice this year so at some point this summer, that will have to happen for us to have a normal football season.”
“Certainly our hope and expectation is that we’ll have fans in the stands,” Morehead We hope that we’ll have our players here at some point during the month of July. We’ll just have to see how the various developments related to COVID-19 affect that timeline but our commissioner is very focused on this issue. Of course all of the SEC presidents are meeting literally at least once a week to discuss this and many other athletic issues. One of the the things I have to emphasize is that even though Greg McGarity has done a great job of being very conservative in finances, which is now proving to have been absolutely critical, even a school like Georgia would be devastated by not having football season because football is the driver financially for all the other athletic programs that we have. It’s also what brings this campus together, brings Bulldog Nation together. So I’m very optimistic, very hopeful that we’ll have a full football season.”
Granted, in reality, all this hopin’ and expectin’ doesn’t mean a helluva lot right now. Who doesn’t want a normal football season? But it’s kind of sobering to see the likes of Bob Bowlsby throwing cold water on the matter.
“It’s hard to put 100,000 people in a stadium when you’ve got to sit 6 feet apart,” he said. “Does a 100,000-seat stadium become a 25,000-seat stadium?”
He also mentioned the annual Red River Showdown game between Oklahoma and Texas, which takes place at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in the middle of the State Fair of Texas. Last year, the state fair hosted 2.5 million people over a three-week span.
“When you think about a petri dish for spreading infection can you think of one that’s better than the State Fair of Texas?” Bowlsby said. “I mean, people are jammed in there and they’re enthusiastic and it’s about a perfect place to transmit any kind of an infection.
“In this new normal … how do you have that at the Cotton Bowl when you’ve got to walk through 300,000 people gathered out in the outer reaches? It’s those kinds of things that we’re going to have think ourselves through.”
But all that money, Bob…