The state of college football and other Division I sports in the fall remains uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Each power 5 conference (besides the Big 12) has announced a new 2020 football schedule with solely conference opponents starting in late September. The Big Ten was the last of the power 5 conferences to make this announcement, which occurred on Wednesday.
Now that all power 5 conferences have slated a conference-only football schedule, the NCAA Board of Directors also announced on Wednesday to let each school and conference decide on what to do about fall sports relating to preseason, regular season and postseason activities.
The NCAA Board of Governors has directed schools and conferences to meet specific requirements if they are to conduct NCAA fall sports during the preseason, regular season and postseason. Further, each division is directed to determine its ability to meet those requirements to conduct fall championships.
All student-athletes must be allowed to opt out of participation due to concerns about contracting COVID-19. If a college athlete chooses to opt out, that individual’s athletic scholarship commitment must be honored by the college or university.
Each division must determine no later than Aug. 14 the eligibility accommodations that must be made for student-athletes who opt out of participating this fall or for those whose seasons are canceled or cut short due to COVID-19. College athletes and their families must know what their eligibility status will be before beginning the fall season.
Member schools may not require student-athlete to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation. Member schools, in conjunction with existing insurance standards, must cover COVID-19 related medical expenses for student-athletes to prevent out-of-pocket expenses for college athletes and their families.
The NCAA will establish a phone number and email to allow college athletes, parents or others to report alleged failures. The association will notify school and conference administrators, who will be expected to take immediate action.
The divisions must determine by Aug. 21 whether their respective fall sports seasons and NCAA championships should occur this year.
While the NCAA preaches the health and safety of the student-athletes at the forefront of all these decisions, there is still some skepticism about what certain people will do in order to have football in the fall.
For example, Colorado State is currently being investigated after rumors of student-athletes being intimidated and threatened as leaders sought to disregard COVID-19 protocols.
We are also seeing several top NFL prospects opting out of the 2020 season.
Oregon junior safety Jevon Holland, along with several other Pac-12 players, took a stand this week with the #WeAreUnited movement on social media and a letter in The Players’ Tribune.
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“We’re not your entertainment, we’re human beings,” Holland told Sports Illustrated. “Just like you would help your family, we want to help our mother, father, grandmother, everyone.
“We don’t know the long term risks. We have no idea how it’s going to affect our body regardless if we show symptoms or not. I refuse to put my health at risk for somebody else’s benefit.”
Oregon State safety Jaydon Grant also jumped on the #WeAreUnited movement too and stated that the Pac-12 is 'rushing football back for money':
At what point are we putting football over human lives? Based on the NCAA's decision, it's in the hands of the schools and conferences but most importantly, the players.