Michigan President Doubts Football, Sports Will Be Played in Fall Amid COVID-19

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2020

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 31: University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel speaks at a news conference announcing the resignation of Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon in the Regents Room of the Fleming Administration Building October 31, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Brandon has been under intense fire and scrutiny, particularly over the past weeks after Michigan's quarterback Shane Morris suffered a concussion during the 2014 football season. Jim Hackett, who retired this year as CEO of Michigan-based furniture company Steelcase, has been named interim athletic director. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel announced there won't be a football season in 2020 unless students are back on campus for classes this fall, according to Melissa Korn and Laine Higgins of the Wall Street Journal.

He added there is "some degree of doubt as to whether there will be college athletics [anywhere], at least in the fall" (h/t Brett McMurphy of Stadium).

Michigan canceled in-person classes in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and resumed the semester with classes using "alternate formats," including online.

Dr. Schlissel is expected to make a decision about the fall semester in the coming weeks, per Korn and Higgins.

Offseason programs for football and other sports have been banned by the NCAA for the past two months, but the Division I Council voted to approve voluntary athletic activities beginning on June 1, per Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith confirmed the Buckeyes football team plans to have players report to campus on June 8, per Dave Biddle of 247Sports.

West Virginia president E. Gordon Gee also recently said there is going to be college football played in the fall, per Joe Brocato of Metro News.

"Among the Big 12, we have near consensus both among the athletic directors and the presidents," Gee said. "We may be tweaking it but every one of our schools is determined to open. Every one of our schools is determined to play football."

Despite the encouraging steps from around the country, Michigan's president appears hesitant to go forward with the 2020 football season.

The state has been hit hard by COVID-19, with over 54,000 confirmed cases leading to more than 5,000 deaths, per CNN.com. Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently extended Michigan's stay-at-home orders through June 12 with a state of emergency declaration running through June 19.