NCAA Sports

The coronavirus and college sports: NCAA reopening plans, latest news, program cuts, more

4:20 AM PHT

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rattle the college sports landscape, leaving many questions unanswered.

But before a new normal can begin to take shape, colleges and universities will have to find a safe way to 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 from the college sports world.

Jump to: Latest news | What will football look like? | What about the CFP? | Program, financial cuts

Latest news: Pac-12 approves 10-game conference-only slate

Friday, July 31: The Pac-12 has approved a 10-game, conference-only fall schedule for football to begin on Sept. 26 with “a lot of built in flexibility,” the conference announced Friday.

Thursday, July 30: The Southeastern Conference will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule in the upcoming football season, sources confirmed to ESPN on Thursday.

Wednesday, July 29: The ACC Board of Directors voted Wednesday to proceed with an 11-game football season that begins the weekend of Sept. 12 and with Notre Dame playing a full league schedule, but only if public health guidance allows. All ACC schools and Notre Dame will play 10 conference games plus one nonconference game of their choosing

Hokies CB to opt out, prep for draft: Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, a projected 2021 first-round pick, is opting out of the coming season. “I am opting out due to uncertain health conditions and regulations and all the other opt-outs in football right now,” he said in a video posted to his Instagram account.

Rutgers football outbreak linked to party: An on-campus party at Rutgers that several athletes attended may have led to the coronavirus outbreak that forced the entire football team into a two-week quarantine, reported on Wednesday. Fifteen Rutgers football players have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Judith Persichilli, New Jersey’s state health commissioner.

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Eight positive at Penn State: Penn State reported eight positive coronavirus tests on Wednesday.

Suspended Arizona OL critical of policies: Arizona offensive lineman Edgar Burrola, who last week was suspended for violating team coronavirus safety protocol, acknowledged he violated policy on multiple occasions, but said he was distrustful of the Arizona medical staff based on skepticism of the protocol the school follows as well as its handling of a 2019 injury.

Big West postpones fall sports: The Big West Conference is postponing all fall sports through the end of the calendar year. The conference will determine later if conducting fall sports in the spring would be feasible.

Tuesday, July 28: The NCAA is allowing all major college football teams to begin their seasons as early as Aug. 29. The association confirmed that the football oversight committee had requested a blanket waiver to permit any school to push up the start of its season to the so-called Week Zero.

Ohio State to cap at 20K fans: Ohio State will limit home crowds to about 20,000 and prohibit tailgating if the football season is played this fall.

NCAA president concerned about starting fall sports: As the start of college football season continues to inch closer, NCAA president Mark Emmert said Tuesday he remains “very concerned” about the status of fall sports and thinks a delayed start and shortened schedule might “make sense.”



Adam Rittenberg reports on an outbreak of COVID-19 that led to a quarantine among the Rutgers football team and might have been the result of an on-campus party.

Michigan pauses summer voluntary workouts: The University of Michigan announced it was pausing summer voluntary workouts for field hockey, volleyball, swimming and diving, and ice hockey on Tuesday. The sports were paused due to a combination of COVID-19 test results and contact tracing protocols, according to the university.

Summit League delaying fall sports start: The Summit League is pushing back the start of fall sports to Sept. 23 because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Soccer and volleyball will play conference-only schedules.

Monday, July 27: As the Power 5 conferences continue to navigate the return of fall sports through the coronavirus pandemic, it’s plausible each league’s plan for football is ultimately different — and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN on Monday that can work. While the Big Ten and Pac-12 have announced conference-only schedules, officials in the Big 12 and SEC remain hopeful they can still play a full 12-game schedule.

Michigan State reveals 16 athletes positive: Michigan State says 16 athletes and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in the school’s latest round of testing.The totals include two staff members and one athlete whose positive tests were announced last week. Michigan State on Friday announced the entire football program had entered a 14-day quarantine, which began Wednesday, because of the recent positive tests.

UNC to limit fans: North Carolina athletics director Bubba Cunningham and John Montgomery, the executive director of the Rams Club that operates as the department’s fund-raising arm, released an open letter Monday saying officials “continue to plan for football to be played this season” but that reducing the number of fans inside Kenan Stadium will be a “necessity.”

NCAA changes minimum requirements: The NCAA Division I Coordination Committee granted a blanket waiver that allows all fall sports except football the ability to play 50 percent fewer games to meet minimum requirements. The waiver applies to men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, men’s water polo and women’s volleyball. Conferences across the country have either pushed back the start dates for fall schedules or moved fall sports to the spring as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

MAAC cancels fall sports: The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has decided to cancel fall sports competition due to continuing health and safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. A decision on whether fall sports competition would be feasible in the spring will be determined by the conference presidents at a later date.

Saturday, July 25: The Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday announced they have moved the season opener against Missouri State to Aug. 29, one week earlier than scheduled. The NCAA approved a waiver request from both schools to move the game — originally scheduled for Sept. 5 — to allow for scheduling flexibility in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, July 24: The NCAA Board of Directors avoided making any major decisions on fall sports championships and will instead make the decisions in August. A potential cancellation of the fall sports championships would not impact the College Football Playoff.

No active cases at Clemson: Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich has reported that there are no active coronavirus cases in the athletic department. He also told the Clemson board of directors that no staff or student-athletes remain in quarantine.

Wednesday, July 22: The NCAA Football Oversight Committee, along with a majority of the Collegiate Commissioners Association, which includes 32 Division I conferences, has expressed strong opposition to the possibility that the NCAA’s board of governors will consider cancelling or postponing fall sports championships during its Friday meeting.

AAC to delay Olympic sports: The American Athletic Conference will delay the start of fall Olympic sports until at least Sept. 1, the league announced Wednesday.

Ohio Valley postpones some sports: The Ohio Valley Conference has postponed the start of competition for fall Olympic sports until Sept. 17, and the league also plans to compete in conference only for women’s soccer and volleyball.

Gov. Cuomo: ‘No fans’ at college sports in N.Y.: Colleges and universities in New York can play football and other sports this fall, but they will have to do so without fans in the stands because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

UNC coaches to wear face shields: North Carolina coach Mack Brown said he and his staff plan to wear face shields and use sticks to make sure they are staying 6 feet away from their players when enhanced workouts begin Friday.

Monday, July 20: The University of Texas says it anticipates hosting football games this season at 50% capacity in the stands. Texas’ Royal-Memorial Stadium holds about 100,000, although that figure was going to be reduced slightly this season because part of the stadium is undergoing renovation.



Heather Dinich and Paul Finebaum explain the likelihood that the Power 5 conferences will follow the SWAC’s plan and move football to the spring.

SWAC lays out plans to move football to spring: The Southwestern Athletic Conference is postponing its fall sports competitions and championships because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and has begun plans to push the fall schedule to the 2021 spring semester, according to a statement provided to ESPN on Monday.

SEC honoring fall scholarships: According to the conference, SEC athletes who opt out of athletics this fall will still have their scholarships honored. Athletes will now be able to choose if they want play in the face of health and safety concerns.

A-10 postpones fall sports: The Atlantic 10 announced the postponement of all fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. The conference is yet to make an announcement on winter sports.

Colonial Athletic cancels season: The Colonial Athletic Association has canceled its football season. The 12 teams in the conference will be allowed to pursue independent schedules, however.

Thursday, July 16: The NCAA Sport Science Institute released extended guidelines to help schools continue to try to navigate a return to fall sports in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, including testing and results within 72 hours of competition in “high contact risk sports,” but NCAA president Mark Emmert conceded the virus is trending in the wrong direction.

MEAC suspends all fall sports for indefinite period: The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has suspended all fall sports indefinitely because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic but hasn’t determined whether the fall schedules will be moved to the 2021 spring semester, the league announced on Thursday.

Big East cancels nonconference schedules for fall: The decision applies to men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball. There is no timetable for a decision on basketball scheduling.

AAC to require testing 72 hours before football games: Commissioner Mike Aresco told the league wanted to get ahead of any testing protocols the NCAA and Power 5 conference announce, in order to assure its opponents it would be able to meet or exceed all guidelines and standards recommended for all fall sports, including football.

NCAA eases bowl eligibility rules: College football teams can count two games against qualifying FCS teams toward bowl eligibility during the upcoming season, the NCAA’s Division I Council announced Wednesday.



SEC commissioner Greg Sankey explains why plans for moving the college football season to the spring will be used only as a last resort.

Missouri coach encouraging masks: Eli Drinkwitz has been the head coach at Missouri for just over seven months, yet his role in the community already has forced him to take important stands. He is encouraging folks to wear masks when they are out in public.

Tuesday, July 14: While commissioners, athletic directors and coaches brace for the worst amid the growing coronavirus crisis, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley said he remains confident there will be college football this season — even if it looks a bit different.

Monday, July 13: The Patriot League will not play sports in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Military Academy and Naval Academy are exempt from the cancellation, and any decisions on their participation in competitive sports will be made by their superintendents.

NJCAA OKs move to spring football season: The National Junior College Athletic Association on Monday approved a proposal to move its football season to the spring, according to Dr. Christopher Parker, the NJCAA president and CEO.



Heather Dinich and Paul Finebaum discuss the possibility that college football might delay the start of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, July 10:The NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, Dan Gavitt, announced Friday that there is no plan in place to shift the NCAA men’s tournament in 2021. Gavitt said it’s “premature to consider dramatic alternatives” at the moment.

Thursday, July 9: The Big Ten on Thursday announced it will be going to a conference-only season for all fall sports, including football, amid “unprecedented times” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday, July 8: The Ivy League has ruled out playing all sports this fall, executive director Robin Harris told ESPN on Wednesday, marking the first major college decision about the status of fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Penn State AD: Spring football ‘last resort’: Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said a spring college football season “would be a last resort” to safely squeeze in the sport during the coronavirus pandemic, citing the impact it would have on the 2021 fall season as a major hurdle.

HBCU game canceled over coronavirus: The Southern Heritage Classic, which since 1990 has annually matched football teams from historically black colleges and universities at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the game’s promoters announced Wednesday. Jackson State and Tennessee State were scheduled to play in the 31st Southern Heritage Classic on Sept. 12.

Wednesday, May 27: The Division I Council Coordination Committee once again extended the recruiting dead period in all sports through July 31. The committee had previously extended the dead period, which was instituted due to the coronavirus pandemic, to June 30, but has now further extended it through the end of July.

COVID-19 impact: How do schools plan, test, recruit and stay afloat?



Coach Brian Kelly gives high praise to his players for how they’ve adjusted to the safety protocols of the upcoming season and says he has no doubt Notre Dame will be able to play.

How the SEC’s scheduling decision affects the ACC, Big 12, College Football Playoff and more: Facebook Messenger Pinterest Email print Four Power 5 conferences have announced their preferred scheduling models, as the SEC joined the Big Ten and Pac-12 in going with conference-only games. The SEC is now planning on playing a 10-game season starting on Sept. 26. The Big 12 is expected to decide next week. What do all these decisions mean for the college football season? Here are the most pressing questions answered. Read

What does ACC, Notre Dame decision mean for college football? The ACC announced an 11-game schedule that features 10 conference games, one nonconference matchup and Notre Dame, so now what? We’re here to answer all your questions about the upcoming ACC fall season and what it means for the rest of college football. Read

College football and coronavirus: Answering the most pressing questions for a 2020 season: With the ACC likely to make a decision this week about its scheduling model and a possible season start date, and the Big 12 and SEC likely not too far behind, here are the most pressing questions surrounding the college football season. Read

How college football teams are prepping for the start of practice: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the “enhanced summer access period,” is starting for college football. Here’s the inside story of what to expect with socially distanced practices, meetings and more. Read

Will college football happen in 2020? How each conference is approaching the upcoming fall season: Some conferences have already made decisions regarding fall sports while others will wait and see. Either way, this page will keep you updated on the latest happenings regarding college football this fall. Read

College basketball coaches wait for next shoe to drop: The Ivy League will not be back on the court until December, at the earliest. Coaches throughout men’s college basketball wonder if similar pandemic-influenced decisions are coming for their leagues. Read

College football season in the spring? Support for the concept is growing: The 2020 college football season is already certain to be played amid unprecedented circumstances. Would shifting the entire season to the spring be a bridge too far for CFB stakeholders? Read



Frank Isola and Michael Wilbon break down how conference-only games will affect the Big Ten and collegiate athletics as a whole.

What do Pac-12 and Big Ten decisions mean for college football? Now that the Pac-12 has joined the Big Ten in going conference only for fall sports, will the rest of the Power 5 follow suit? Are we looking at a spring season? And which games are we going to miss the most? Read

What will the Ivy League’s fall sports decision mean for college football? The Ivy League has announced that there will be no fall sports competition this year. Will its decision once again become a trend at the FBS level or will it be an outlier made by a league without the same structures and incentives as big-time college football? Read

How college football is trying to answer its biggest return-to-play questions: How do you keep the players safe? Did schools err in bringing players back? How can there be uniformity in testing or scheduling? What will practice look like in a contact sport? And what do the players think? We talked to athletic directors, coaches, athletes and parents, as well as medical and legal experts, to get a sense of where things stand with the start of the season less than two months away. Read

No football would cost $4 billion, alter college sports: As more college athletic departments cut sports programs, the financial wreckage is becoming clear. And it gets even worse if college football doesn’t return. Read

College recruiting challenges during the coronavirus pandemic: With the state of college football and basketball in limbo, coaches and recruits across the country have had to find new ways to go about age-old practices during the spring. Read

College Football Playoff: Will there be one?



Paul Finebaum doesn’t see how the college football season could begin on time but explains why playing in the spring is “beyond the last resort” for Power 5 conferences.

CFP officials have said they are moving forward with a plan to still have a playoff as scheduled. Here is the latest news:

Schools that have cut pay, programs, staff



Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir breaks down what went into the difficult decision to cut 11 varsity sports.

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:


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