Florida Athletic Director Says School Is Open to Hosting Pro Games amid COVID-19

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2020

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Florida Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin speaks during an introductory press conference for new football head coach Dan Mullen at the Bill Heavener football complex on November 27, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images

University of Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said Thursday the school is willing to provide its facilities to professional teams searching for alternative locations amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

ESPN's Andrea Adelson provided the full statement from Stricklin:

"Our priority is the well-being of Gator student-athletes, staff and fans, and we are working toward the day when we can once again engage with those groups safely on campus. Following Governor [Ron] DeSantis' comment yesterday inviting other pro teams to participate in our state, I reached out to remind him that UF and Gainesville have world class health care facilities, an iconic football stadium, a state-of-the-art basketball arena and a brand-new baseball ballpark within two hours of cities with professional franchises. We've been receiving excellent guidance from our state and health care officials, and when those groups believe it is safe to host college and pro sporting events in Florida, we will be prepared to do so."

DeSantis said Wednesday the state is looking to provide a "safe" environment for pro teams at a time when "people are starved" for sports.

"If you have a team in an area where they just won't let them operate, we'll find a place for you here in the state of Florida," DeSantis told reporters.

The offers come after NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on a conference call with players Friday the league was considering Orlando, home of the Disney World complex, as a potential "bubble" city to resume its 2019-20 season along with Las Vegas, per ESPN.

Meanwhile, the status of the Gators' college football season remains unclear after NCAA president Mark Emmert said Friday, "If a school doesn't reopen, then they're not going to be playing sports. It's really that simple."

The University of Florida moved all classes online on March 16. A date for students returning to campus hasn't been announced.