NCAA president Mark Emmert acknowledged Friday that when college sports return, it is “almost inevitable” that some athletes will contract the coronavirus.
In an interview with CNN, Emmert said, “We have literally a half-million student athletes. We’ve got 1,100 different schools that participate in NCAA sports — 19,000 teams, not 32 (teams like the NFL). So, to me, it’s not if a student comes down with the virus, it’s when. I think it’s almost inevitable with those kinds of numbers.
“And so you have to have in place the protocols for testing, for tracking symptoms, for tracking contact and the ability to quarantine individuals and those they’ve come in contact with when this occurs.
“Same thing with regular students. It’s impossible to believe that you can bring 40,000 students back to campus and all the faculty and staff and not have somebody sooner or later contract the virus. So it’s how you react to it that’s going to be critical.”
The NCAA’s request to conduct large-scale COVID-19 testing has been passed along to “everyone from President Trump on down,” according to Emmert. He added that he is optimistic such testing will occur.
Emmert said the NCAA would not dictate when schools might resume sports, leaving those decisions to be made locally. The fact that the restart date could vary among states and regions leaves college sports with a “juggling act,” he said.
“I’m not the ultimate arbiter to this,” Emmert said. “It’s going to be a decision that each of the campuses is going to have to make on their own.”
Emmert reiterated his previously stated belief that sports shouldn’t occur unless the general student body returned to campus.
“If we can get colleges open and operating, we hope we can get sports operating as well,” he said. “These are college students playing the sports. One thing we’ve been saying loud and clear is you can’t put college athletes at any more risk than college students.”
—Field Level Media