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Friday, May 22, 2020

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby discusses necessary steps for football and fans this fall

Conference announced Friday night that football players will be allowed back on campus June 15

Kansas wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. (5) left, and Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) come in to celebrate with Kansas wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II (8) after Lassiter's touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Kansas wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. (5) left, and Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) come in to celebrate with Kansas wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II (8) after Lassiter's touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

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Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby not only believes college football games will be played this fall, but he also thinks fans will be in attendance.

How many and how it all comes together remains a work in progress. But Bowlsby said Friday morning, during an appearance on SiriusXM Big 12 Radio, that he believes Big 12 football games will include spectators.

“It really depends on how things go between now and then,” he said, noting that 80,000-seat stadiums could face the reality of having just 20,000 fans present due to social distancing requirements. “But I think it’s fair to ask the question, ‘If it’s safe for the kids to be on the field in close contact, why wouldn’t it be safe for fans to be in the stands at social distance?’”

The whole key, at schools throughout the Big 12 Conference and around the country, is to create an attendance system that is capable of handling spectators.

photo

Associated Press

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby addresses attendees during Big 12 media day, Monday, July 18, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Bowlsby said making a detailed plan for proper procedures was critical and that such a plan should include everything from standard social distancing measures and how to properly disinfect facilities to what to do if a student-athlete contracts the COVID-19 virus.

“More than anything else, we have to put the procedures in place so we can test with regularity,” Bowlsby said. “In the athletics environment, that’s probably every couple or three days.”

“We are going to have positive tests,” he added. “And we need to know exactly how we’re going to deal with them.”

In addition, Bowlsby said preparations for the college football season — and all fall sports in 2020 — have to include “hospital-quality disinfectant done on a very, very regular basis.”

To that end, Bowlsby said the Big 12 has hired an outside consultant to educate its athletic departments on the correct way to disinfect facilities. And West Virginia Athletic Director Shane Lyons is the chair of the Football Oversight Committee that is working closely with NCAA Sport Sciences professionals to create guidelines for college football this fall.

Bowlsby said the safety strategies currently being explored may soon become common in weight rooms, locker rooms, shower rooms and even in the way equipment is designed and maintained.

“It’s a very large undertaking,” he said.

Beyond the necessary preparations, the first step in the process of having football this fall is determining when it is safe for student-athletes to return to campuses.

The SEC on Friday announced that it would welcome student-athletes back to campus under strict supervision and safety guidelines beginning June 8. Bowlsby said that most Big 12 coaches and officials believed that a little later might be better.

“We have some that would like to go on June 1, we have some that would like to go on July 1,” he said. “The majority would like to strike a happy medium.”

By Friday evening, the Big 12 had its answer. The conference's board of directors announced June 15 as the date for football players to return to campuses for "voluntary activities related to sport participation."

According to a news release, "football student-athletes will be permitted to access campus athletic facilities and support personnel for voluntary conditioning and training exercises."

The Big 12's volleyball, soccer and cross country athletes are allowed to return July 1. And all other student-athletes, including men's basketball players, are allowed to return to campus for voluntary sport-related activities on July 15.

“We need at least a couple of weeks of re-acclimation and then four weeks of preseason camp,” Bowlsby said of the conference's football programs. “That’s what it takes to get ready.”

Kansas, like eight other Big 12 programs, is scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sept. 5. The Jayhawks will play host to New Hampshire at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in the season opener.

Oklahoma State is the first Big 12 team scheduled to play during the 2020 season. OSU opens on Sept. 3 against Oregon State in Stillwater, Okla.

“We all want to get back to something that looks like normal,” Bowlsby said. “And I think we have to accept that there are going to be disruptions and that this is probably going to be a new normal, not the normal we’ve known before.”

Comments

Bryce Landon 1 week, 4 days ago

I'm still pissed at Bob Bowlsby for ripping the Big 12 Tournament from us. I'm tired of seeing healthy people like us having our pleasures ripped from us because there is a fraction of a percentage of a chance we might get sick.

And no, this does NOT have to be the "new normal". If the Woodstock music festival could take place in the midst of the Hong Kong flu of 1968-1970, then college sports can take place without disruptions in the midst of this Wuhan flu.

Robert Brock 1 week, 3 days ago

Get sick and give it to your family. Great idea.

Creg Bohrer 1 week, 3 days ago

That didn't happen. The Hong Kong flu happened before Woodstock, look up the dates on Wikipedia.

Dane Pratt 1 week, 3 days ago

I suppose there's an argument for ignoring covid 19 and allowing it to take its course, weeding out the frail and weak and creating a herd immunity that allows the rest of us to live our lives without the inconvenience of missing things like athletic competition. But I would not want to be the person who plays God and make the announcement that a certain segment of our population is expendable.

Ryan Shelton 1 week, 3 days ago

"'It really depends on how things go between now and then,' he said, noting that 80,000-seat stadiums could face the reality of having just 20,000 fans present due to social distancing requirements."

It looks like the playing field has finally been leveled (or stands in this case.)

1 week, 3 days ago

“But I think it’s fair to ask the question, ‘If it’s safe for the kids to be on the field in close contact, why wouldn’t it be safe for fans to be in the stands at social distance?’” is it safe for kids to be on the field in close contact bob?🤔 probably not.

Brian Skelly 1 week, 3 days ago

I think the odds of fans being in the stands for games in the fall is not zero, but it's closer than that to 100%. Easy. Sports and events are going to be TV shows before they become events that folks go back to.

Understand, im not advocating that position. But there's already serious talk amongst most big state universities to not even have students back on campus until the spring semester of 2021. They're not going to have fans in the stands if there are not kids on campus.

Just assume most sports are going to be on TV and not events we go to for awhile.

Tim Orel 1 week, 2 days ago

IIRC, the NCAA said that they wouldn't allow competitions until the general students are allowed back on campus, so if students wouldn't be back till January, the whole fall semester schedule would be without sports. No football, and maybe fewer BB games.

Brett McCabe 1 week, 3 days ago

Hey Bryce, almost 100k dead. Each one with a spouse or kid or grandkid or friend.

If anyone ever wanted to know which one is the weakest nation on earth, the soft one, the pathetic one....just read comments from pathetic piles of cowardice like Bryce and Suzi. Two weaklings. No discipline. No toughness. No teamwork. Just ME.

Jeff Kallmeyer 1 week, 2 days ago

"...80,000-seat stadiums could face the reality of having just 20,000 fans present due to social distancing requirements." Only 20k fans? No problem for KU football.

Dane Pratt 1 week, 2 days ago

We averaged a little under 30k last year so 20 should be no problem. But if they are reducing capacity by 25 percent then Memorial could allow only 12,500.

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