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Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL, File

NCAA pushes decision on college football, other fall sports to August

By Sean Walker, | Posted - Jul. 24, 2020 at 6:44 p.m.

PROVO — At this point as the NCAA determines the fate of college football in the fall, no news may be interpreted as good news.

At the very least, a formal decision on the fate of fall sports, including college football, won’t be made until August — when training camps initially would’ve started around the country.

NCAA president Mark Emmert released a statement Friday after the organization’s board of governors meeting, indicating plans for the group to “thoughtfully and aggressively” monitor the health conditions around the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But still, no decision has been made on the fall 2020 season.

“The health and well-being of college athletes is the highest priority in deciding whether to proceed with our 22 NCAA championships beginning in late November,” Emmert said. “We all remain deeply concerned about the infection trend lines we see.

“It is clear that the format of our championships will have to change if they are to be conducted in a safe and fair manner. We discussed other complexities in addition to the health and safety impacts, to include team availability, travel limitations and various local and state restrictions. We will continue our discussions in August.”

The NCAA board of governors is scheduled to meet again Aug. 4. The group is considered the highest governing body in intercollegiate athletics.

And while the group’s decision will affect more than just football, its influence on the highest levels of the game is yet to be determined.

That’s because the Football Bowl Subdivision is governed by a consortium of college conference commissioners, television partners and bowl sponsors. The Power Five conferences of the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC are also given autonomy to make their own decisions, as well.

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on intercollegiate athlete compensation on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Power Five conferences spent $350,000 on lobbying in the first three months of 2020, more than they had previously spent in any full year, as part of a coordinated effort to influence Congress on legislation affecting the ability of college athletes to earn endorsement money. At the hearing in February, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Congress needs to put “guardrails” on athletes' ability to earn money, in part to protect against potential recruiting abuses and endorsement money being used as a pay-for-play scheme. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) [May-19-2020] (Photo: Susan Walsh, AP Photo)

The NCAA will still make football decisions for the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), as well as Division II and Division III. Many of the leagues in those divisions — such as the Ivy League, Patriot League, Colonial Athletic and Southwestern Athletic Conference — have already postponed, canceled or altered their timelines for fall sports, including football.

The NCAA's decision to wait on formally ratifying the upcoming fall season seems to fall in line with recent recommendations of its membership.

A memo obtained by the Associated Press from the College Commissioners Association, which is compromised of commissioners from all 32 conferences, suggested that the board of governors should wait on making any decisions that might cancel or postpone the multimillion-dollar enterprise that is college football. Similar recommendations were provided by the NCAA's own football oversight committee, as well.

In the memo, the CCA said it was “concerned to learn the board is contemplating taking action soon to cancel all fall season NCAA championships” because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But some conferences have already begun making their own decisions. Several conferences in Division III — which does not subsidize athletics with scholarships — have already canceled the season, saying they won't play sports until at least January or later, in most cases. The National Junior College Athletic Association also pushed the fall season for all contact sports, including football, soccer and volleyball, until January 2021.

In the FBS, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have already decided on a conference-only schedule, dramatically altering the season for each of its member schools as well as BYU, which has had five games canceled so far as a result of the decision. All the while, some programs within those leagues have have difficult maintaining a consistent run of voluntary workouts over the summer.

Michigan State became the latest program to suspend its football workouts Friday when it placed the entire program currently on campus into a 14-day quarantine following positive tests for COVID-19 of an athlete and two staff members, officials said. They'll all be required to quarantine or isolate while undergoing additional testing for the virus due to athletic department policy.

"As part of the athletic department's return to campus policy, student-athletes quarantine when coming into close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19," part of the school's release read.

The other three Power Five leagues remain mum on their plans. The ACC is reportedly considering an option that will bring Notre Dame into the league as a temporary member, two people briefed on the discussions told the Associated Press.

The move would shift the ACC to a schedule of 10 conference games-plus-one, with the first week of the season kicking off Sept. 12, according to the AP.

In 132 years of college football, Notre Dame has never joined a conference — something its fans have cherished. The private Catholic university based in South Bend, Indiana, plays a national schedule with selective recruiting based on its academic standards, and currently boasts an exclusive contract with NBC to back up its unique course as an FBS independent.

The Fighting Irish had six games scheduled against the ACC, though it remains unclear how many of those games would remain in a non-traditional season such as the one caused by the pandemic.

Contributing: Associated Press

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