COVID-19 could derail small school college athletics

COVID-19 could derail small school college athletics
SFA Junior Trae Self looks to complete a pass at the first day of fall practice. (Source: KTRE Sports)

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The world is very close to having no Fall sports as the nation continues to battle rising COVID-19 numbers.

On Wednesday morning the NCAA Board of Governors told each of its three divisions they were responsible in making the determination on whether to hold fall championships. Within hours both the D-II and D-III boards came out with an announcement to cancel fall sports championships.

The DI council did not make a decision. They must do so by August 21. At least 50 % of all eligible institutions must commit to playing for a fall championship to take place.

“I think there is some merit to leaving it up to each division,” SFA Athletic Director Ryan Ivey said. “I think there is some opportunity in not creating a one size fits all mechanism. I think the challenge is that we still don’t have any clear direction right now with what that is going to look like.”

The NCAA is requiring schools that participate to follow strict protocols. In order to play an athlete must be tested and get negative results back with 72 hours of a contest. Universities must also cover under their insurance all COVID-19 medical expenses that might come to a student-athlete. Universities must also honor all scholarship funds for any student athlete that opts out of playing due to COVID-19 concerns.

“For us the biggest concern is the cost of testing and the amount of testing that is going to be required. How do we get our hands on testing. Right now testing cost range from $15- $150. That is a big difference. That is not something we have readily available especially with some of the budget reductions we have gone through.”

Even if fall championships are canceled, individual conferences could continue to play. The Southland Conference has been committed to playing in the fall but with each passing day those hopes seem further away from reality.

Ivey knows how important athletics is but also understands that the priority they have to athletes is their safety and making sure they have a life after sports.

“I have always made this statement wherever I have been when talking to graduating student-athletes,” Ivey said. “If you look back on your life and the best 4-5 years was the time you spent in college then I have failed. I have failed you. We have failed you from an administration standpoint. While playing college athletics is extremely fun, important and critical to what we do, it should not be the capstone of their life.”

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