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The NCAA has made it clear that unless college campuses are open to the entire student body in the fall, there are no plans to risk the health of student-athletes for the sake of sports.
President Mark Emmert plainly said Friday night that the NCAA will not play fall sports if the coronavirus pandemic forces schools to close campuses in the coming months.
“College athletes are college students, and you can’t have college sports if you don’t have college [campuses] open and having students on them,” Emmert said, according to the NCAA’s Twitter. “You don’t want to ever put student-athletes at greater risk than the rest of the student body.”
Conferences across the nation have been at odds over whether or not they will play fall sports if classes are online-only.
The Big East commissioner Val Ackerman has already decided that fall sports would not be played if students aren’t allowed on campus while Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has said that online classes would be “satisfactory” to being able to bring student-athletes back to campus for fall sports, according to the New York Post.
Emmert said Friday that conditions for returning to campus will not be as strict but student safety will be a must.
“That doesn’t mean [schools have] to be up and running in the full normal model, but you’ve got to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students,” Emmert said. “So, if a school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple.”
It is conceivable that leagues would play with some members not participating.
While no deadlines have been set, Ackerman said during a press conference Friday that the presidents indicated a late June/early July deadline for fall sports, and possibly a Sept. 1 deadline for winter sports, when basketball is played.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.