Report: Mark Emmert Told Congress CFB Season Could Be Shortened Amid Pandemic

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJune 4, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on intercollegiate athlete compensation on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Power Five conferences spent $350,000 on lobbying in the first three months of 2020, more than they had previously spent in any full year, as part of a coordinated effort to influence Congress on legislation affecting the ability of college athletes to earn endorsement money. At the hearing in February, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Congress needs to put “guardrails” on athletes' ability to earn money, in part to protect against potential recruiting abuses and endorsement money being used as a pay-for-play scheme. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh/Associated Press

NCAA executives are preparing for the possibility of a shortened college football season that could see conference title games kick off in late November.   

According to Alan Blinder and Jonathan Martin of the New York Times, NCAA president Mark Emmert told a group of Republicans in the House of Representatives that the coronavirus pandemic may force a truncated season with "certain championships" played by Thanksgiving. 

Emmert further said he expects the season to begin around Labor Day. College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock told Blinder and Martin his organizers are still preparing for the postseason in January 2021, as well. 

NCAA guidelines currently allow for individual school and government leadership to "determine who can participate in, assist with and watch student-athlete practices and competition." However, Emmert's voice holds plenty of sway in college athletics. 

Per Blinder and Martin

"College football does not have a central governing authority, and Emmert does not have the power to set or modify the sport's schedules. But he has been advising conferences about how a season might proceed, and his cautionary words to lawmakers suggest that, despite many sports executives' optimistic public ambitions, top officials have serious doubts about the trajectory of a season during a pandemic."

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The CFP Championship Game is currently scheduled for January 11, 2021, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans are set to serve as the semifinals on New Year's Day. 

Public health experts have repeatedly warned that a second wave of the coronavirus may befall the United States this fall and winter, which reportedly has the NCAA at least considering the notion of a shorter season. 

The conference call, organized by Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise, also included leaders from the NFL, NHL, PGA Tour and NASCAR.