Mark Emmert Says He Doesn't See NCAA Sports Starting If Schools Are Online-Only

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 9, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 04: President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Mark Emmert speaks to the media ahead of the Men's Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 04, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)
Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

The short-term future of college sports is in limbo because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already caused the cancellation of the NCAA's winter sports championships and spring sport seasons and may threaten athletics during the 2020-21 school year as well.

With in-person classes canceled nationwide over fears about the spread of the coronavirus, it's uncertain whether students will be able to return to campus in the fall.

If not, then NCAA President Mark Emmert says he doesn't foresee sports returning until it's safe for students to return to the classroom.

He spoke about the topic in a live conversation on the NCAA's Twitter channel (h/t Steve Berkowitz of USA Today):

"College athletes are college students, and you can't have college sports if you don't have college (campuses) open and having students on them. You don't want to ever put student-athletes at greater risk than the rest of the student body. [...]

"All of the commissioners and every president that I've talked to is in clear agreement: If you don't have students on campus, you don't have student-athletes on campus.

"That doesn't mean it has to be up and running in the full normal model, but you've got to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students. So if a school doesn't reopen, then they're not going to be playing sports. It's really that simple."

Some states have been slowly reopening in recent days, including Georgia and Texas. But others, such as New Jersey and Massachusetts, are in full shutdown mode.

The irregularities across the country likely make it impossible for student-athletes to return to campus at the same time and have standard schedules.

Emmert referenced the potential inequalities.

"Will that mean that some school doesn't play as full a schedule as another school and that may create some inequity in their ability to participate in a championship? Possibly," Emmert said. "And we'll have to cross that bridge when we get there. ... I'll be delighted to have those debates later in the fall."

Per the World Health Organization's figures on Saturday, the United States has had over 1.21 million positive cases and over 67,000 deaths.

The number of daily new cases has decreased from a high of 38,509 on April 26, although 22,119 new positive tests came to light Friday.