Around the world of college sports, things continue to evolve as new information emerges.
— The latest domino to fall is the Mid-American Conference, which today became the first FBS conference to cancel the 2020 football season. Concerns over health and safety during this pandemic prompted the decision, but also the cancellation of several non-conference games with Power 5 programs and the attendant revenue shortfall.
— After cancelling the D-II and D-III seasons, the NCAA announced that the FCS Playoffs are also cancelled this fall. The Missouri Valley Conference announced it would move its football season to the spring of 2021.
— What will happen with the rest of Division I football? Who knows? Everyone just keeps kicking that can down the road, and Power 5 conferences are simply too invested in the sport to give it up completely.
— Pac-12 players presented a united front and made certain demands of their conference. Now players in the Big Ten have followed suit. Using the hashtag #BigTenUnited, and writing on behalf of College Athlete Unity, over 1,000 athletes in the Big Ten have joined forces to demand better health and safety standards and greater accountability from their colleges. Unlike the Pac-12 brief, their demands are limited to the Big Ten’s tepid response to the COVID19 pandemic.
— This united action has not been without controversy, and does not seem to involve players from all Big Ten programs. To wit, Ohio State players released a statement yesterday expressing confidence that their school “is providing the proper structure and organization for safety.” This proves what we have always known: Ohio State is the SEC of the Big Ten.
— Across college football, several players have opted out of the upcoming season, citing health concerns. This list includes players from across the country and features several legitimate pro prospects.
— Joining those athletes is one of our own. Jonathan Alexander has opted out of the 2020 football season. The senior had previously tested positive for the coronavirus and expressed concern about not wanting to risk his football future. He’s taking a redshirt year and will be back with the team in 2021.
— Despite everything that has happened at Kansas State over the last several weeks, fall camp for the 2020 season has begun. Judging from player responses, everyone is raring to go. The seniors in particular are really excited about the coming season. Fingers crossed it actually happens.
— Kansas State’s non-conference schedule is now in dire straits. With the SEC going to a conference-only schedule taking Vanderbilt off the table, all that was left was Buffalo and North Dakota. But Buffalo is in the MAC, and North Dakota is in the Missouri Valley Conference, which has also cancelled its season. Although The Valley is allowing teams to move forward with the non-conference slate, questions abound.
In non-pandemic news, disturbing allegations have surfaced at two programs in our general geographic area:
— Colorado State, amid accusations of racism and abuse, has suspended all football activities indefinitely. This followed an investigation by the school into rumors the football program was not following certain safety protocols required during the COVID19 pandemic.
— At Texas Tech, following troubling news of abuse and sexual harassment in the women’s basketball program, head coach Marlene Stollings has been fired. Interestingly, the story was the result of dogged pursuit of exit-interview information using open-records requests by The Intercollegiate.
On that note, I hope your weekend is happy and healthy, and the potential lack of fall sports hasn’t put too much of a damper on it. Be safe, wash your hands, wear a mask!