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September 2020
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College AD Nightcap News


NCAA Board of Governors Tells Divisions to Safeguard Student-Athlete Well-Being, Scholarships and Eligibility

“The first and most important consideration is whether sports can be conducted safely for college athletes. Each division must examine whether it has the resources available to take the required precautions given the spread of COVID-19.” - Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and University of California system president

The NCAA Board of Governors has directed schools and conferences to meet specific requirements if they are to conduct NCAA fall sports during the preseason, regular season and postseason.

Today, both the Division II and Division III Presidents Council announced the cancelation of championships in fall sports for 2020-21.

The Board of Governors expressed serious concerns about the continuing high levels of COVID-19 infection in many parts of the nation. The board has determined that it will only support moving forward with fall championships and other postseason play if strict conditions are applied and adhered to.

The requirements include:

  • All fall sports activity (preseason, regular season and postseason) must follow the recently released return-to-sport guidelines from the NCAA Sport Science Institute for all athletic activity. As the guidelines change based on the ever-changing pandemic, schools must follow any future modifications.
  • The NCAA will establish a phone number and email to allow college athletes, parents or others to report alleged failures. The Association will notify school and conference administrators, who will be expected to take immediate action.
  • All member schools must adhere to federal, state and local guidelines related to COVID-19. Further, the conduct of NCAA championships must be in line with federal, state and local guidelines.
  • All student-athletes must be allowed to opt out of participation due to concerns about contracting COVID-19. If a college athlete chooses to opt out, that individual’s athletics scholarship commitment must be honored by the college or university.
  • Each division must determine no later than Aug. 14 the eligibility accommodations that must be made for student-athletes who opt out of participating this fall or for those whose seasons are canceled or cut short due to COVID-19. College athletes and their families must know what their eligibility status will be before beginning the fall season.
  • Member schools may not require student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation.
  • Member schools, in conjunction with existing insurance standards, must cover COVID-19 related medical expenses for student-athletes to prevent out-of-pocket expenses for college athletes and their families.
  • Any NCAA fall championship or other postseason contests must be conducted within enhanced safety protocols for student-athletes and essential athletics personnel. These safety enhancements will include regular testing, separation of college athletes and essential personnel from all other nonessential personnel, and physical distancing and masking policies during all aspects of noncompetition.
  • NCAA championships may use reduced bracketing, a reduced number of competitors, predetermined sites and, where appropriate, single sites to limit exposure to COVID-19.
  • If 50% or more of eligible teams in a particular sport in a division cancel their fall season, there will be no fall NCAA championship in that sport in that division.
  • If fall sports championships are postponed in any division, a decision to conduct that championship at a later date will be based upon the scientific data available at that time regarding COVID-19, along with other considerations.

The board based its requirements on guidance from the NCAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Panel, established in March and comprising leading medical, public health and epidemiology experts. The panel will continue to closely monitor the pandemic and its impact on higher education and college sports and to provide any recommended changes to the requirements.

“Our decisions place emphasis where it belongs — on the health and safety of college athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “Student-athletes should never feel pressured into playing their sport if they do not believe it is safe to do so. These policies ensure they can make thoughtful, informed decisions about playing this fall.”

and on to the day’s news.

The Day’s News

  • The University of Connecticut Department of Athletics today announced that its football program will cancel all competition for the 2020-21 school year.
  • “After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season,” director of athletics David Benedict said. “The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.”
  • Members of the team will remain enrolled in classes, either virtually or in person, as full-time students at UConn. The team members will also retain access to facilities and support services in accordance with NCAA rules, ensuring that student-athletes remain on track academically and developmentally.
  • “The necessary measures needed to mitigate risk of football student-athletes contracting the coronavirus are not conducive to delivering an optimal experience for our team,” Benedict said. “Ultimately, the student-athletes would rather preserve their year of eligibility with an eye to competing under more typical circumstances during the 2021 season.”
  • The Division I Board of Directors on Wednesday reviewed name, image and likeness concepts sent to the division’s members for feedback and provided insight as the governing body that oversees the strategic direction of Division I.
  • Board members also asked the Division I Council to review the future of fall championships in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Board of Governors requirements and recommendations.
  • Earlier in the day, a survey about potential name, image and likeness rule changes was sent to the Division I membership for their review and response. Board members noted the continued interest of Congress in expanded name, image and likeness opportunities for student-athletes as a necessary part of allowing the NCAA to push forward to propose changes that can be enacted in 2021.
  • The American Athletic Conference Board of Directors has announced the conference’s plan and timeline for the start of athletics competition for the Fall 2020 season. Approval was unanimous after consultation with the conference’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, athletic directors and senior woman administrators.
  • The plan calls for regular-season intraconference competition in football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, capped by conference championship events in those sports, as well as men’s and women’s cross country.
  • The American’s 12 member schools will be able to schedule nonconference competitions in fall sports at their discretion, but under the guidelines and protocols set by the Medical Advisory Group.


  • The Pac-12 is planning a mammoth loan program that would provide an escape hatch for cash-strapped athletic departments in the event the football season is canceled because of coronavirus, according to internal documents and conference sources.
  • Football accounts for the majority of each department’s revenue, generating in excess of $50 million dollars in ticket sales and media rights alone.
  • The loan program would be large enough to cover that loss for each school, if needed: According to a series of emails obtained by the Hotline through public records requests, the loan would provide a maximum of $83 million for each university at a rate of 3.75 percent over 10 years.
  • Each athletic department could decide whether it wanted to participate in the program. If all 12 opted for the maximum amount, the total would be $996 million.
  • The NCAA filed a petition Wednesday morning that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to press pause on allowing college athletes to receive an expanded number of education-related benefits. In March 2019, a federal judge ruled that the NCAA’s restrictions on what schools can provide to student-athletes violate antitrust laws.
  • The NCAA appealed that decision in circuit court and lost earlier this year. Wednesday’s filing indicates that the NCAA intends to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as well.
  • The NCAA and its member schools are facing an onslaught of challenges to its amateurism rules in the court system, from state and federal lawmakers, and from a budding strike orchestrated by Pac-12 football players.
  • The Big Ten Conference announced today that the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) has approved plans for the 2020 football season, including a 10-game Conference-only schedule beginning as early as the weekend of September 5.
  • Working with the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (Task Force) and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee (Committee), the Big Ten Conference also released its medical policies and protocols for all sports on the specific topics of testing requirements, and quarantine and isolation.
  • Testing will be managed by a third-party laboratory to ensure consistency across the Conference. Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic, the protocols will be updated regularly as new information becomes available and feedback from student-athletes is continuously evaluated.
  • The College Football Playoff selection committee will change the release date of its final rankings to match the altered regular-season schedules created by Bowl Subdivision conferences due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The committee will now release the rankings on Sunday, Dec. 20, two weeks later than originally planned. Power Five leagues such as the SEC have already moved their conference championships back to Dec. 19.
  • The semifinal games are scheduled to be played Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The College Football Playoff championship game is set for Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
  • The Southeastern Conference might be planning on testing its players for coronavirus three times a week during the football season, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp told reporters Wednesday.
  • The fifth-year head coach said the league plans on testing players on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays of game weeks, but SEC spokesman Herb Vincent did not confirm what Muschamp said.
  • “Our Medical Task Force is meeting regularly on developing testing protocols and it will be announced when finalized,” Vincent said in a statement.
  • If true, the SEC’s move would be in sync with the Big Ten’s requirement for its high contact risk sports to test players multiple times in a week.
  • The University of Louisville has temporarily suspended all team-related activities for the fall sports of men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball. The decision was made after 29 members of the four teams tested positive for COVID-19 while multiple other teammates and student-athletes from other sports were potentially exposed to the virus and remain in quarantine due to contact tracing.
  • Following department policies and protocols, the primary source of the positive tests, and its exposure, was traced primarily to an off-campus party.
  • Team members from the four sports programs who have not tested positive or been identified through contact tracing may be permitted to return to workouts on campus beginning Monday, Aug. 10, pending testing results. The suspension of activities began on Monday, Aug. 3.
  • Big Ten football players released requests on Wednesday for increased testing and safety protocols ahead of the 2020 season. The players–in partnership with the organization College Athlete Unity–released their requests in an article in The Players’ Tribune.
  • Big Ten athletes noted they are “deeply disappointed with the lack of leadership demonstrated by the NCAA.” “Given that the players are the primary stakeholders in the business of college sports, we believe any course of action moving forward needs to include player input,” the Big Ten players wrote on Thursday.
  • The Big Ten’s “Unity Proposal” features five pillars. The conference’s players called for social distancing requirements and temperature requests for anyone entering a team facility, and they also asked or testing twice per week.
  • A group of Pac-12 football players with the #WeAreUnited movement met with officials from the California governor’s office Tuesday to discuss concerns about their schools’ COVID-19 protocols and protecting their college eligibility.
  • The players hope an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom could mandate player-approved, third-party oversight of COVID-19 rules at the Pac-12’s four California schools and ensure players who opt out of the coming season because of the coronavirus won’t lose a year of eligibility.
  • The Pac-12 has said players who opt out will stay on scholarship this season, but whether college athletes would be allowed to preserve their eligibility in that situation is undetermined.
  • Joyce McConnell, president of Colorado State University, said Tuesday she was launching an “immediate and objective” investigation into the athletic department following allegations that student-athletes have been intimidated and threatened as leaders sought to disregard COVID-19 protocols.
  • Coaches, players and sports medicine staff at Colorado State University told ESPN that athletic department leaders are discouraging athletes from being tested for COVID-19, are failing to provide accurate information to local and state health officials and are ignoring guidelines to quarantine athletes who might have been exposed.
  • McConnell, who told ESPN she was “shocked” by the allegations, said the school would protect anyone against retaliation. She said Colorado State would not play football in 2020 unless players feel safe.


  • A member of the Eastern Kentucky University football team has quit over safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • “No matter what you hear the facts are the facts, with the main fact being the coach and some staff, do not care about player safety.” Landon White wrote.
  • EKU released this statement Wednesday afternoon from Director of Athletics Matt Roan saying in part: “Eastern Kentucky University Athletics is aware of online statements recently made by a former student-athlete. First and foremost, the health, safety and overall well-being of our student-athletes will always be a primary priority. Head Football Coach Walt Wells and I have met continuously to ensure that football operations continue to adhere to local, state and health organization guidelines. We completely agree that egregiously or willfully ignoring safety guidelines, or our established protocol by any of our athletic programs, staff or students is a serious issue and will not be tolerated.”
  • While the Big Ten may have its updated 10-game conference-only slate, one of the league’s most prominent athletic directors warned that doesn’t necessarily mean the 2020 season will occur.
  • In a statement released alongside the Buckeyes’ schedule, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said a final decision has yet to have been made regarding whether or not the Big Ten will move forward with the 2020 campaign. Rather, the conference is continuing to consult with officials regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and will make an ultimate decision in the weeks ahead.
  • “This is not a final decision that there will be an athletics season; it is the next phase in our responsible planning process with the Big Ten Conference to be prepared if we are able to have an athletics season,” Smith said. “The final decision will be made in the coming weeks in consultation with local, state and federal authorities.”
  • The league is expected to announce on Wednesday for what the schedule would be, and Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger has the details of the three options.
  • These options make the most sense and playing 10 games is a good number as it is in line with the rest of the Power — except the ACC which currently is trying 11 games.
  • The Mountain West has one team that desperately would want to play two non-conference games and that is Air Force who annually plays Navy and Army for the Commander-In-Chief award. So, the league might be sympathetic to the Falcons and try to allow them to play those two games.
  • Virginia Tech has thus far been able to avoid furloughs, salary cuts and layoffs, but the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could force the department to take more drastic measures in the coming months.
  • “I hope we do not have to do that, but everything is on our list and we should know more in that direction later this fall, early winter,” Babcock said. “At some point, that financial shoe will drop. I’ll leave it at that. We don’t know yet, but it is coming.”
  • The Virginia Tech athletic department brought in revenues of $96.7 million for the 2019 fiscal year. The football media rights package brought in $20.6 million in revenue, the team made $17.3 million in ticket revenue and another $1.6 million from programs, novelty, parking and concession sales.
  • On Wednesday, Babcock said the best-case scenario for attendance at Lane Stadium this fall is 50 percent capacity. The team has already had a home game cut from its schedule and season tickets sales are down by 4,000.

Learfield IMG College Launches Nationwide “With U” Campaign

  • In the midst of what is shaping up to be a landmark season in college athletics, Learfield IMG College launches “With U” – a nationwide marketing campaign designed to unite and strengthen the connection between college sports fans and sponsors who share an affinity and passion for their schools.
  • Promoted through extensive digital marketing touchpoints via web and social, “With U” honors the allegiance of collegiate athletics sponsors and provides them a dedicated platform to stay engaged and connected with fans 365 days a year, no matter what.
  • The campaign will activate with more than 170 schools nationwide, where Learfield IMG College is the athletics multimedia rightsholder. It fosters a common identity and iconic “With U” badge that proudly boasts the school’s colors and marks.
  • IU’s athletic department announced Wednesday a three-year partnership with the sports technology company Opendorse, which comes as universities prepare for looming NCAA rule changes that will allow student-athletes to profit off of their name, image, and likeness.
  • The Opendorse “Ready Program” will be one of the first steps in training athletes at IU on how to promote their personal brands.
  • The Florida A&M football program has asked the NCAA for a waiver to play a four-game non-conference schedule in the fall of 2020 and has set its sights on the Florida State Seminoles as a potential opponent, according to sources familiar with both schools.
  • The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which FAMU will be leaving after the 2020-21 athletic season, cancelled fall sports in July, but a source familiar with the situation tells WCTV the league is trying to put together an abbreviated conference football schedule in the spring.
  • FAMU head coach Willie Simmons tells WCTV the school has reached out to all of the FBS teams across the state to see about the potential of playing in the fall, saying the talks are preliminary in nature.
  • The La Salle University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation has announced a voting initiative for student-athletes and members of the La Salle community to engage in for the upcoming 2020 national, state and local elections.
  • In unison with the University’s “La Salle Votes” initiative, La Salle Athletics wishes to raise awareness on the importance of exploring your right to vote to those across campus and to members of the community, especially first-time voters.
  • The Department has created an informational page for student-athletes to utilize as a source of guidelines for voter registration, mail-in/absentee ballots, key deadlines, and online resources.
  • Director of Athletics Tim Duncan announced the University of New Orleans will honor fall semester scholarships for student-athletes regardless if he or she chooses not to participate in the Fall 2020 Semester. A letter from Duncan was sent to all students last Monday expressing the department’s stance on “providing a safe environment for your return.”
  • “New Orleans students who choose not to compete in the fall because of health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19 will have their scholarships honored,” said Duncan. “This is the right thing to do.”
  • Duncan added “We are confident in our protocols developed and managed by our Athletics COVID-19 Task Force, but we want to do the right thing to support students and their families who would rather not be on campus this semester.”
  • The financial situation for the Cal Golden Bears is about to go from bad to worse.  One of the country’s largest and most successful athletic programs, Cal is also remarkable in another way.
  • The program is struggling in the same ways many others are too. College football is hanging by a thread, which means ticket sales and possibly TV money will drop significantly. Cal’s also losing partners—Under Armour is trying to back out of its $86 million contract—and facing a new wave of athlete activism, born from football players on its own campus, with a long list of demands.
  • Cal’s athletics budget is around $108 million, with $36 million of that attributed to football. Some revenue will be held, and the school will save some costs—it can cost $2 million to fly its football team to games—but a canceled football season would be catastrophic.
  • In a series of season-ending exit interviews, players alleged a culture of abuse in the Texas Tech program since coach Marlene Stollings took over in April 2018. They say a toxic atmosphere has prompted an exodus of players, including 12 of 21 leaving the program, seven of whom were recruited under Stollings.
  • Two players detailed these allegations to the NCAA and were granted waivers allowing them to play the next season.
  • USA TODAY Sports interviewed 10 players, two former assistant coaches and two parents about the program. Six of the players spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
  • Mia Castaneda, who transferred to Washburn University in Kansas last year, said the coaches’ approach has gone beyond instilling hard work and accountability. “It was just the feeling of fear, anxiety, depression,” Castaneda told USA TODAY Sports.
  • Following the Big Ten‘s announcement of the revised, conference-only football schedule Wednesday, Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez announced that, if the fall athletic season is played as scheduled, UW is preparing for the reality that it will not be appropriate for thousands of fans to gather in Camp Randall on Saturdays this fall.
  • In his letter, Alvarez also unveiled the Badger Legacy Campaign, a fundraising campaign designed to help Wisconsin Athletics offset the lost revenues incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on what the football season looks like, UW Athletics is facing revenue losses of between $60-100 million.
  • Fans who purchased season tickets for football were offered the opportunity to participate in the Badger Legacy Campaign by reinvesting their season ticket and per seat contributions into a fully tax-deductible donation for 2020.
  • Idaho football coach Paul Petrino and athletic director Terry Gawlik said they are supportive and willing to listen to players following a report that nearly three-fourths of the Vandals’ football team don’t want to play this season due to coronavirus concerns.
  • According to Stadium, players had expressed concerns to Petrino, Gawlik, the team’s assistant coaches and university president Scott Green. “We stand behind our student-athletes and fully support their right to speak out,” Petrino said in a statement Tuesday.
  • Petrino said the team gathered Tuesday to discuss the measures being taken by the university as they attempt to play football this fall. According to the release, the team got together for a players-only Zoom meeting last week to discuss their options.




And that’s that.

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