UConn president speculates that fall sports will be canceled

Sport

No one knows what will happen with college or pro football this year, but the president of one university currently believes that there will be no college football in 2020.

Connecticut president Thomas Katsouleas issued a statement on Tuesday clarifying comments he had made to one of the school’s journalism classes regarding the possibility of no college football this year. Katsouleas was careful to point out that he’s merely speculating at this point. But it’s one thing for someone who isn’t the president of a university to offer such observations. It’s quite another for those views to come from someone who is.

Here’s the full statement, via Yahoo Sports: “Earlier today, speaking to a UConn journalism class, I was asked about the return of fall 2020 sports and how that may be managed in light of the pandemic. I began by saying that the questions surrounding fall sports are not going to be answered solely by presidents or athletic directors, but will largely be driven by the NCAA, and that in many ways the choices would be decided for us. I did however say that the current thinking is that it’s likely that fall sports will be canceled. This was not based on any inside knowledge or discussions on the subject, and was nothing more than speculation. No decisions have been made about fall sports and when they are made, we will look to the NCAA and our conference to take the lead on those choices. We will also, as always, be guided by the governor and state government. Our hope is that we will be able to play in the fall, as planned.”

Katsouleas’ tightrope routine balances his own views — which are relevant — against the fact that others will have a voice in these decisions. But the overriding reality for college football is that it will be very difficult to have college football without college.

If campuses are closed to students, how can they be open to student-athletes? That approach would lay bare the reality that student-athletes are more athlete than student, and that they are there to generate revenue and balance budgets. Although in one respect it’s no different than the stewards of pro wrestling admitting that, as everyone already knew, the results are predetermined, in another respect tearing down that facade will set the stage, when the dust settles on the ongoing pandemic, for players to get paid.

That’s the balance that college football delicately will be trying to strike this year. If they push too hard to salvage the coming season, they may undermine all future seasons by opening the door to far more persuasive arguments that players should get something more than tuition, room, board, and snacks for their abilities, efforts, sacrifices, and risks . . . especially if those risks will expand from the risks inherent to playing football to risks associated with gathering in a group that could spread illness easily and rapidly, putting at risk (for example) any college football players who are overweight and potentially more susceptible to a negative outcome if infected by the coronavirus.