In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the fate of the upcoming NCAA athletic season is still unclear. Fall sports typically kick off in just a few months, but that timeline is now in question due to the circumstances surrounding it.
With August quickly approaching, many hope that answers to when teams can begin practicing - and eventually play - come in the near future. University of Virginia President Jim Ryan is among them. But Ryan also understands that the decision is not an easy one.
During an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," Ryan fielded questions in general about how the university is handling the pandemic and what may be done in the coming months. Within that avenue of questioning, he was also asked what the tentative plan for athletics at the University of Virginia is. The programs are a major source of income for the school. While Ryan wants sports back, there is no strict plan in place right now.
"We're taking it day by day. Obviously, we need to have students back on Grounds before football can begin," Ryan said. "But our athletic director, Carla Williams, and our head football coach, Bronco Mendenhall, are committed first and foremost to the safety and well-being of their players, our student athletes. And they'll begin practice when the medical experts tell them that it's safe to do so."
That answer sounds bleak, but it's all that can really be done at this time. With social-distancing measures still in place and no clear process for how to integrate a large number of students or athletes yet in place, Ryan and others are forced to re-evaluate the situation consistently.
Despite the obstacles in the way, Ryan still believes that there will be a college football season. If that season were to begin, he just doesn't expect it to be like the typical few months of football. It will be a very different environment.
"Our hope, obviously, is that there's a football season this fall. I don't imagine it will look like normal football seasons, just like I don't imagine even if we have all students back on Grounds, it will look like a normal semester," Ryan said. "It will not be a normal semester next fall, regardless of which path we follow."
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