WVU President Gordon Gee Jokes CFB Season Will Happen Even If He Has to Play

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2020

FILE - In this June 7, 2013 file photo, Ohio State University president Gordon Gee gives his retirement speech during the board of trustees meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Gee's retirement after remarks jabbing Roman Catholics, Southeastern Conference schools became public was voted one of Ohio's top 10 stories for 2013. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said Wednesday he's confident the 2019 college football season will take place despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are going to play football in the fall, I really do believe that. Even if I have to suit up," the 76-year-old joked during an appearance on WOWK-TV (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).

He added: "We're going to do it based on what is safe, what is healthy for our fans, what is healthy for our student-athletes. But I do believe that we will play football."

Gee went on the explain he believes it's time for the United States to begin the reopening process after the widespread lockdown because of COVID-19.

"I think that this country needs to move from being shut down to having an ability to be able to get back into hope and opportunity, and certainly athletics provides great hope and great synergy to people," he said on WOWK.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned against moving too quickly in an effort to restore a sense of normalcy, though:

"My concern that if some areas—cities, states or what have you—jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up, without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks. ...

"There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery."

Meanwhile, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Friday he doesn't envision a scenario when fall sports are played unless college campuses are open.

"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," he said. "... If a school doesn't reopen, then they're not going to be playing sports. It's really that simple."

It creates a complex situation to navigate with 130 FBS programs spread from Massachusetts to Hawaii.

West Virginia is scheduled to open its regular season Sept. 5 against Florida State.