The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to allow a moratorium on voluntary, on-campus workouts by football and basketball players to expire at the end of the month. The decision came as a growing number of college leaders express confidence that fall sports will be played in some form.
NCAA spokeswoman Michelle Hosick confirmed the topic was on Wednesday’s agenda for the council. The moratorium on athletic activities for all sports currently runs through May 31.
A growing number of schools have announced plans to reopen their campuses for the fall semester, and conferences have started setting up plans for how to play football amid the coronavirus pandemic. The latest came this week with the Florida State system announcing plans for its 12 schools and more than 420,000 students.
Many questions remain, including specific safety protocols and whether fans would be allowed if games proceed. But the presidents of Miami and Notre Dame said in separate interviews Wednesday that they expect the football season to be played.
Rev. John Jenkins, the Notre Dame president, said he expects in the next few weeks to have clarity on how — or if — the football season can happen.
“The team itself, I feel we can manage that one,” Jenkins said. “Then the question is people in the stands. We have an 85,000-person stadium. Can we get 85,000 people in there? That will be a big challenge to do that. But could we get a smaller number — 10,000, 15,000, 20,000? I don’t know.”
Miami president Julio Frenk said he hopes the Hurricanes can play this fall and that safety would be the top priority.
“They will probably play in empty stadiums, like so many other sports,” Frenk said. “But we hope to have a season and we hope to have a winning season.”
Scott Woodward, the athletic director at defending national champion LSU, said his school was preparing to welcome back its athletes after the Southeastern Conference’s closure of athletic facilities to students is slated to end May 31.
LSU will offer summer classes online and doesn’t have plans to reopen its campus to the general student population at least until the fall semester.
Most athletic departments need the revenue generated from football to fund other sports. Hundreds of schools are reeling financially from the effects of the pandemic. Athletic departments, particularly at smaller schools and in Division II, have cut a number of sports.
The NCAA this week lowered the minimum and maximum number of games Division II schools are required to play in all sports next year. The move includes a 33 percent reduction in the minimum number of games needed for sponsorship and championship qualification in most sports.
Under the plan, D-II schools must play at least five football games to maintain NCAA sponsorship and at least seven games to be eligible for playoff consideration. The maximum number of allowable games is 10.
The requirements would return to normal in 2021-22.