While the 2020 college football season doesn't kick off until late August, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby acknowledged action could begin without fans in attendance because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Bowlsby told reporters Thursday that "it's hard to forecast those things" when refusing to rule out games in empty stadiums, per Stadium's Brett McMurphy.
The Big 12 announced March 13 it was suspending "team activities whether organized or voluntary, including team and individual practices, meetings, and other organized gatherings" until at least March 29 in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Every major sports league is on hold as well, with no firm date on which action would resume.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told WFAA's Mike Leslie he's hopeful the NBA could return in mid-May. ESPN's Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel reported the MLB and MLB Players Association are aiming for early June to start the 2020 season.
In the event those leagues do come back by May or June, they might have to do so without fans, though, depending on recommendations by health officials.
Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman listened to Bowlsby's teleconference and came away with the impression the upcoming college football season "is a total unknown."
Since the stadium atmosphere accounts for so much of the pageantry around college football, the absence of fans would have a significant impact on games.
Bowlsby said that any coronavirus-related measures would likely be uniform across FBS rather than conferences acting on their own, per the Associated Press' Ralph D. Russo.