Nine of the 14 football-playing members of the Atlantic Coast Conference are making plans for reopening campuses this fall while three others have publicly said they are exploring scenarios for a return following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reopening campuses for in-person instruction is a crucial step toward restarting college sports, which were shut down in March. Commissioners of the nation’s major football conferences told Vice President Mike Pence last month that college sports couldn’t return until campuses have reopened, while the NCAA’s chief medical officer said last week that widespread testing for COVID-19 would be critical to restarting sports.
Football stands out in particular, both with its preseason camps scheduled for August and its status as the revenue driver when it comes to conference TV deals. The ACC’s first football games are scheduled for Sept. 3, with Clemson visiting Georgia Tech and North Carolina State visiting Louisville.
So far, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech have all publicly stated the goal of having campuses open for fall classes, assuming that health officials advise it is safe to do so.
Three other ACC schools — Duke, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest — say they are examining multiple scenarios for a return in the fall. Duke has said the strategy team examining steps for a potential return in the fall is due to make a preliminary report by June 1, while Pittsburgh chancellor Patrick Gallagher said last week that the school would likely share plans with students and their families by early July.
Boston College and Florida State haven’t specifically addressed plans for reopening campus this fall.
There’s also Notre Dame, a member of all league sports outside of its football independence. The school has a May 15 target for deciding how to operate for the second half of summer courses.
IndyCar to open June 6
IndyCar has gotten the green flag to finally start its season, which it will do in Texas with a nighttime race June 6 without spectators.
The race at Texas Motor Speedway was the next one on the schedule that hadn’t been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. IndyCar and track officials announced the details, heavy with safety precautions along with financial concessions from both sides to make it happen.
There will be a condensed schedule, with practice, qualifying and the race taking place on the same day. There will be strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on site, with health screening system administered to all participants and personal protection equipment provided to everyone entering the facility.
TMS president Eddie Gossage had previously indicated he didn’t want to run a IndyCar race without fans, given that tracks don’t get a cut of the TV revenue for those races.
Gossage said IndyCar was chartering two planes to fly drivers and team members from Indianapolis to the Fort Worth Alliance Airport the morning of the race, and back home that night. The planes would be sanitized before and after each flight, as will the buses that will take everyone to and from the airport and track.
Social distancing protocols will be in place and carefully maintained. There are two 64-bay garages on the infield at Texas, and both will be utilized to give the 24 expected teams plenty of room for separation.
German soccer: The Bundesliga soccer season will resume on May 16 in empty stadiums, picking up right where it left off two months ago amid the coronavirus pandemic.
German soccer league managing director Christian Seifert said the return of soccer was because of the success the country’s leaders and health officials have had in response to the outbreak.
Germany has had a high number of COVID-19 infections — nearly 170,000 by Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University — with about 7,000 deaths, a lower number compared to elsewhere.
The country’s relative success in combating the virus has been attributed to early testing, a robust health service and strict lockdown measures.
The Bundesliga’s return has given hope to soccer officials in Spain, Italy and England that they may yet also finish their seasons.
Canadian football: Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the most likely scenario is to cancel the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ambrosie made the admission for the first time while testifying to a House of Commons standing committee on finance.
During his testimony, Ambrosie said the league’s future is “very much in jeopardy.”