Big 12's Bob Bowlsby: College Football Can Be Played at Schools Operating Online

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2020

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby talks to the media after canceling the remaining NCAA college basketball games in the Big 12 Conference tournament due to concerns about the coronavirus Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. The biggest conferences in college sports all canceled their basketball tournaments because of the new coronavirus, seemingly putting the NCAA Tournament in doubt. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby is optimistic about college football being played this fall and in front of fans. 

During an appearance on Sportsline, he told West Virginia University play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi that college games could be played even if universities have gone fully to online classes, per G. Allan Taylor of The Athletic:

G. Allan Taylor @GAllanTaylor

Bowlsby says "crowds may be a little bit soft, especially early in the season" as some fans are reluctant to pack stadiums. But he lists numerous diseases "that are still around" and they haven't paralyzed society. https://t.co/fo3qzaqk08

Bowlsby also said Thursday he believes that teams have a good chance of getting into the necessary preseason programs by mid-July, as scheduled: 

John Kurtz @jlkurtz

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby tells us on @TheGameKMAN that he thinks there's a "reasonably good" chance that preparations for the college football season can start on time. July 15th is a key date in that regard. https://t.co/YpJXKrzGUN

But earlier in the week, Bowlsby expressed doubt that every program around the nation might be able to play an uninterrupted season. 

"I think it will be very surprising if all of college football can start on time and play through the season without (coronavirus) disruptions," he told Andy Staples and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic. "... Even within leagues, there may be some situations where some of the teams will play and some of them wouldn't."

A scenario with some teams playing and others on hiatus could cause all sorts of issues, affecting everything from scheduling to trying to fairly rank teams for the College Football Playoff.

"If somebody has an outbreak on their campus, or has someone on their team test positive, and the team that’s supposed to be visiting this Saturday says they're not coming, we'll have to have some ground rules in place," Bowlsby told Staples and Mandel. "Is that a forfeit for the team that won't come? Is it a forfeit for the home team? Does it get made up?"

Different universities might also have different standards for returning to play. If a campus is kept remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, many schools may choose against resuming play. Some might require athletes, coaches and training staffs to be fully tested and quarantined before participating. 

A lot remains unknown, including whether the pandemic will intensify or grow less severe in the coming months and whether certain states will permit athletic competitions at all any time soon.  

"The virus is going to be around for a while, so we're going to have to learn how to live with it, and that's especially true for athletics," Bowlsby said. "We're going to have to learn coping mechanisms. It's not that it's patently unsafe, it's, are you confident you have the testing and best practices in place to ensure a virus-free environment? There's always going to be some risk."