How the coronavirus is affecting college sports: NCAA reopening plans, cancellations, recruiting, more

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The coronavirus pandemic continues to rattle the college sports landscape and leave many questions still unanswered.

But even before a new normal can begin to take shape, colleges and universities will have to find a safe way to simply reopen campuses. Complex, high-stakes public health issues need to be dealt with before there is a good sense of what college sports will look like.

Here is the latest news and updates around where things stand in college sports.

Tuesday, May 12: Emmert, Pac-12, others weigh in on future plans

Will the college football season begin in late August as originally planned? It depends on whom you ask. But NCAA president Mark Emmert made it clear that the association will not be the arbiter of a cross-conference, unified plan. Emmert said earlier this month that fall sports would likely a no-go if campuses aren’t reopened.

And here’s where it again starts to get complicated: Within hours of Heather Dinich’s interview with Emmert, Pac-12’s football coaches made a unified pitch for an NCAA-mandated uniform start to the season.

The pitch might gain more merit as the days drag on — according to The Los Angeles Times, a Los Angeles County public health official said that county’s stay-at-home order is likely to extend through July. That could leave Pac-12 members USC and UCLA waiting until at least August before they begin preparing. Earlier this month, Oregon state officials advised that gatherings at sporting events should be canceled or modified through September.

Many coaches we have spoken to over the past few months have said they’d prefer six to eight weeks to prepare for the season, with the most common reason being injury prevention. Some conference commissioners, meanwhile, have said they believe a unified resumption isn’t absolutely necessary.

Other updates of note from Tuesday:

Other notable updates and headlines

This month’s notable headlines and updates from around the college sports world:

What about the College Football Playoff?

There are currently no plans to change the format of the four-team College Football Playoff, CFP executive director Bill Hancock said April 21 after two days of virtual CFP spring meetings.

Cancellations and reopening plans

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Heather Dinich examines which schools will take the biggest hit in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 12, the NCAA announced it was canceling the 2020 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, and all other remaining sports within the 2019-20 academic year. This included baseball, beach volleyball, bowling, fencing, golf (men’s and women’s), gymnastics (men’s and women’s), ice hockey (men’s and women’s), indoor track and field, lacrosse (men’s and women’s), men’s volleyball, outdoor track and field, rifle, rowing, skiing, softball, swimming and diving (men’s and women’s), tennis (men’s and women’s), women’s water polo and wrestling.

On April 28, chief medical officers from major sports leagues participated in a call with Seema Verma, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and administrator for the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services. The call, according to a White House official, was to review how sports play a role in President Donald Trump’s plan for opening up America amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

Schools that have cut pay, programs, staff

A day after the University of Cincinnati announced it would permanently cut its men’s soccer program, a letter from five conference commissioners to NCAA president Emmert asked, in part, for the NCAA to lift rules that require Division I schools to sponsor at least 16 varsity sports.

Here are other programs that have disbanded, plus schools that have made staffing changes and pay cuts:

Eligibility

The NCAA announced it will allow schools to grant an additional season of eligibility to spring-sport athletes who did not get to participate in 2020. On the surface, it seems like the right thing to do, but it wasn’t a mandate. Schools have the option to do so, but the additional cost in retaining a larger roster will likely be infeasible for a significant number of schools. It’s unclear how many will take advantage of the NCAA’s offer. Wisconsin was the first major school to announce it would not seek waivers for its outgoing seniors.

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