College sports will not resume until all students are back on campus, NCAA president Mark Emmert said Friday.
Speaking on the NCAA’s Twitter feed regarding the start of college athletics amid the coronavirus pandemic, Emmert dismissed any notion of sports restarting before classrooms reopen.
“College athletes are college students, and you can’t have college sports if you don’t have college (campuses) open and having students on them,” Emmert said. “You don’t want to ever put student-athletes at greater risk than the rest of the student body.”
Emmert added of Division I universities, “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.
“That doesn’t mean it has to be up and running in the full normal model, but you’ve got to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students. So if a school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple.”
Also on the Twitter discussion, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline, emphasized the importance of testing for COVID-19 and tracing the contacts of those with the virus.
“There has to be a good sense of surveillance, and that really has to be at the campus level, the regional level,” Hainline said. “So if we’re going to start opening up society, we need to know that means. That’s what surveillance is all about. We need to improve the infrastructure for that.
“And then finally the testing is going to be really important. … What does testing really mean? How often does it have to be done — especially if you’re in a contact sport where the athletes are close to one another. So the testing component — especially getting a rapid-diagnostic test on the one hand and then understanding immunity on the other — that’s going to have to really improve over the next several weeks.”
The NCAA shut down all winter-sports championships in mid-March due to the pandemic, then ultimately scrapped all spring sports.