As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the sports world, and especially college athletics, Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione was made available via teleconference on Thursday to touch on a few topics.
Here are some of the major highlights of what Castiglione had to say:
All Options are Open for the 2020 College Football Season
Really the biggest question in the world of sports right now outside of just simply “Will there ever be any again” is what is to come of football in the year 2020.
The NFL seems gung-ho about going full steam ahead and keeping everything on time, even intending to have their draft as scheduled on April 23-25 done entirely through virtual means.
But those are professional athletes, college is an entirely different animal – as Mike Gundy learned the hard way earlier this week.
Many suggestions have been tossed out there, including eliminating non-conference play or even playing the season in its entirety in the spring time.
Castiglione made it clear that nothing has been ruled off the table as of now, but that getting everyone to lock down on one plan is going to be extremely challenging.
“I don’t ever want this to be a conversation where we’re going to let perfect be the enemy of good,” Castiglione said. “We may not have a perfect solution. It might be fraught with any variety of imperfections – we all know stadiums and arenas were not built for social distancing.”
Joe is basically saying that no option is the perfect solution on how to handle this, and that is why he fears no matter what is tossed out there it will be met with so much resistance it will be hard to go forward with it.
It’s fine and dandy that nothing has been ruled yet according to him as of April 9th, but that’s just the point – it’s the first half of April.
As the Spring turns into Summer, the NCAA is going to have to start to figure out what will and won’t work as an option for the 2020 college football season. For right now, they can play around with options – but the time will soon come that some extremely hard decisions will need to be reached if it becomes clear the season can not be played in full as scheduled.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported yesterday that many people around college football have “strong conviction” that there will be a season played this year – but that a lot of uncertainty lies on when.
The Economic Impact from the Coronavirus will be “Noticeable”
It’s no secret that the Coronavirus is having, and will continue to have, a wide economic impact across the country for the foreseeable future.
But sticking just with the sports and universities aspect of this, Castiglione made it clear that they are not immune to the ripple effects.
“I think at a minimum it is going to impact us in a noticeable way,” Castiglione said. “To say it is not going to have any economic impact would be grossly naive. We are just hoping to minimize it.”
The biggest driving force of why so many people believe college football will happen this upcoming year is the money side of this.
Football is the big money-getter in college sports, especially at big schools like the University of Oklahoma.
All these major universities have already lost out on all their spring sports along with the NCAA Basketball Tournament which is a huge pay day for the NCAA and the participating schools.
OU also, like everyone else, missed out on their annual spring game which provides tens of thousands of tickets sold every single year providing for another large income boost to the school.
These schools simply can’t afford to completely miss out on a college football season, and will do absolutely everything they can to get it played.
That is why the spring season is actually being tossed out and considered, even though it doesn’t really make much sense when really thought about.
But for anyone who thought “Oh schools like OU make so much money they will be fine,” Castilgione refuted that line of thinking but did also say it is hard to project how harsh it will be because, like everything else right now, nobody really knows what to expect.
OU is Supporting Spring Sport Athletes Returning for an Additional Year
The NCAA made the right decision and elected to give the year of eligibility back to all spring sport athletes who basically had a season completely taken away from them due to the Coronavirus.
But, as far as how scholarships would be handled, that was up to each individual school – and Joe C said that OU was fully supporting the return of spring sport athletes.
Now before people jump up like this is some obvious move – it really isn’t.
We just discussed the economic impact not having any sports right now is having, so just handing out extra scholarships next spring isn’t exactly a slam dunk decision.
Some schools are not going to go forward with this, with Wisconsin being a very notable one to not allow seniors to return next season under scholarship.
This is huge news for teams like OU Baseball and Softball, among others, that are going to get the opportunity to return all their seniors in addition to the new crop of players they’re adding in.
The schools willing to provide the funding for these athletes to return next season are going to have an extreme advantage over the ones who aren’t, so Oklahoma being on the good side of this is big news for all the spring sports.
As always, stay plugged into 107.7 The Franchise every single day both on the air and on the web for all news on Sooner sports.