Despite the California State University system’s decision to hold fall classes almost exclusively online amid the coronavirus pandemic, San Diego State is continuing to prepare for the 2020 football season as it is currently scheduled.
The CSU system has three campuses that compete at the FBS level, all in the Mountain West: San Diego State, Fresno State and San Jose State. Many top-level administrators in FBS conferences, including Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, have been lukewarm to the idea of having athletes on campus without the rest of the student body.
Last month, Thompson said that the Mountain West “won’t have college athletics” unless campuses are “in full mode with dormitories and housing and all of the other facilities open.” With classes at CSU branches like SDSU being almost exclusively online in the fall, how can football operate as usual?
John David Wicker, SDSU’s athletic director, told the Associated Press that the school is planning a “hybrid approach” to classes, with some students on campus and others taking classes online. In conjunction with that approach, Wicker said SDSU hopes to have football players back on campus some time after July 7, which is when the second summer session begins.
Wicker said SDSU had been planning for a hybrid model, no matter what, and feels that CSU Chancellor Timothy White’s announcement was misconstrued by some people who thought fall sports would be canceled.
“We’re going to have students on campus,” Wicker said.
Wicker acknowledged that the timeline for a return to sports is going to differ from state-to-state with the virus affecting different states at different levels of severity. In the meantime, SDSU is pressing forward with its preparations for the 2020 season, which is scheduled to open Sept. 5 against Sacramento State, another Cal State campus.
From the AP:
SDSU has assembled a task force to figure out how it could house and feed athletes while meeting all safety parameters, with the hope of having a plan by the end of this month.
The school also has begun looking at how it could safely host fans within social distancing guidelines, if fans will be allowed to attend games at 70,000-seat SDCCU Stadium. He mentioned the Miami Dolphins are making plans to allow perhaps 15,000 fans at 65,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium, if fans are allowed to attend NFL games.
If these Cal State schools cannot begin their football seasons along with the others in the Mountain West, it will cause a trickle-down effect throughout college football. While the Mountain West would be down to just nine teams, schools like Colorado, Penn State, Texas A&M and UCLA will be left scrambling to fill holes in their schedules.
As conferences assess various return-to-campus plans, an array of contingency scenarios for the season are also being discussed. Some conferences, like the Pac-12, have discussed a conference-only schedule. In that case, Pac-12 teams would play an 11-game schedule against only league opponents.
Meanwhile, the NCAA Division I Council is expected to vote on lifting its nation-wide moratorium on on-campus summer activities in the coming weeks, according to Sports Illustrated. The moratorium expires May 31.
Some SEC schools are hoping to resume activities June 1 but not all in the college football world are as anxious to get back at it. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said last week that the idea of bringing players back to campuses on June 1 was “one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.” Instead, Riley stressed patience.
“All this talk of schools wanting to bring players back on June 1st is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard,” Riley said. “We’ve got to be patient. We’ll get one good shot at it. Bring them back at the right time when we’re as prepared and know as much about this as we possibly can.”
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