West Virginia president vows there will be football in the fall: 'Even if I have to suit up'

West Virginia University President Dr. E. Gordon Gee is among those who are optimistic there will be college football in fall despite the coronavirus pandemic shutting sports down in the spring.

Gee, 76, made clear on Wednesday that he believes the sport will go on, even if he has to put on pads and a helmet himself, according to WOWK-TV.

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“We are going to play football in the fall. I really do believe that – even if I have to suit up,” Gee said. “And I got my ankles taped I’m ready to go in. But I think, again, with everything we’re going to do is based upon what is safe, what is healthy for our fans, what is healthy for our student-athletes, but I do believe that we will play football.”

Gee’s comments came days after NCAA president Mark Emmert expressed some doubt that the sports can go on as scheduled if all the schools don’t open up on time. Emmert said the goal is for each team is to have an equal amount of preparation time before their seasons start.

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“All the various (NCAA) member committees and the conferences are all talking about: What does it mean if we have that sort of scenario where we’ve got different opening times or different opening models,” Emmert said.

“What does it mean if you look at a conference, for example, if a conference has some schools open and some not?” he added. “You can't run a regular schedule if you've got that scenario. How do you adjust all the rules to provide as much flexibility as you possibly can to let student-athletes have a good experience in that season?”

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools are required by the NCAA to play at least nine games, including five at home. The season is set to start around Labor Day weekend, with a handful of teams kicking off the weekend prior to the holiday.

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Emmert said the schools and conferences are working together to find the right way to go about the fall sports season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.