How will the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic impact the look of the 2020-21 NCAA calendar? With less than two months go until Week Zero of the 2020 college football season and cases of the virus spiking in certain parts of the nation, many questions still remain over the future of college athletics as schools look to ensure a safe return. Although the NCAA has already implemented a plan for an on-time start to the football season, programs across the country have seen handfuls of players test positive — some of them even shutting down voluntary workouts as a response.
In a wide-ranging interview teleconference with reporters on Friday, Oklahoma State University athletic director Mike Holder addressed concerns over the upcoming seasons for college football and other sports. Holder maintained that the university is gearing up for a normal athletic calendar despite those concerns, and added that Oklahoma State will honor all of its athletic scholarships “no matter what happens” over the course of the 2020-21 academic year as it pertains to games being held.
“Our intent is to gear up and get ready,” Holde said. “If we’re not fortunate enough to play team sports this fall, then we’ll get ready to play the winter sports. If for some reason we can’t play those, then we’ll get ready to play in spring. And if not those, then we’ll be ready again for fall sports in 2021.
“I’ll assure you this. No matter what happens in the next 8-12 months — no matter what the revenue looks like for our athletic department — we will honor every single scholarship. We will honor every scholarship from those seniors that had their spring seasons interrupted and want to come back. You know, we understand the priorities here: Educating young people. Whatever scholarships we had promised for the 2020-21 season, we’re expecting to do exactly the same thing again.”
Holder told reporters on Friday that 14 Oklahoma State athletes had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday morning, 12 of them being football players.
In April, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, in an interview with ESPN, voiced concerns over “whether or not we can have a full and robust football season” as the nation grapples with the impacts from the virus. A report from Stadium indicated that many athletic directors were even open to playing football in the spring as a last-resort scenario should the traditional fall schedule not be an option.
When asked about the potential for a spring football season on Friday, Holder didn’t rule out the proposal from becoming a reality.
“Absolutely (it’s feasible),” Holder said of a spring football season. “Anything is possible. It might not be preferred, but yeah. Anything is possible.
“I think our athletes just want to play. It doesn’t matter what sport. They came here to compete, and we want to give them a chance to win the conference championship, national championship or whatever it may be. Hopefully, they’re dreaming that big.”
Oklahoma State football is scheduled to kick off its season on Sept. 3 at home vs. Oregon State. The Cowboys are entering their 16th season under head coach Mike Gundy.