FAYETTEVILLE — From someone who makes his living writing about sports it’s difficult to say the SEC and NCAA are making smart decisions canceling these seasons for the remainder of 2019-20 year, but that’s exactly what they are doing.
While there’s no need to run to the store and panic buy enough toilet paper to last a small army the next year the truth is this virus threat isn’t going away in the next 2-3 weeks. It would be great if it did, but that’s not happening.
Listening to Donald Trump and Asa Hutchinson daily it’s pretty obvious this is gonna last for awhile. Even the possibility of July or August was thrown out there on Monday by Trump. Will it last until then? One would certainly hope not because if it does there will probably be a lot of bankruptcies and the such filed. If people can’t work they can’t pay their bills and if companies close their doors in many cases the rent goes on for the building.
There’s no doubt everyone involoved would love for the threat to be under control in May or even sooner than that time frame, but there’s simply no guarantee that will be the case. The medical experts aren’t that optimistic this will end sooner rather than later. The ones in charge have said they would love for this to clear up and it appear they overreacted. That’s a best-case scenario for everyone involved.
The SEC canceled any remaining Pro Days as well on Tuesday. Arkansas got their Pro Day in just in time with the March 11 event that had 12 former athletes perform in front of 22 NFL teams. But Sam Pittman and his staff needed the 15 spring football practices as much as anyone in the SEC. There’s four new head football coaches in the SEC and they all needed this spring to learn their teams.
The on- and off-campus recruiting is halted until April 15 and who knows if it will be reinstated then for coaches to go out and recruits to come on campus. If the coaches are able to go will any high schools be open? What about the football camps held at colleges in June and some in July? What’s the odds the SEC and NCAA allows 300 or more campers plus parents and coaches in one setting even in June? Certainly to be determined.
Questions abound about giving seniors in spring sports another of eligibility. It’s not as simple as to just say sure grant them another year. What about scholarship limits in those sports? Do they allow the roster and number on scholarship to remain for another year? Because coaches as Dave Van Horn has signed freshmen to come and replace the ones he thought were leaving. So there’s another process the NCAA has to figure out. If you give seniors another year, do you allow freshmen, sophomores and juniors to repeat those years as well? If so then scholarship numbers could be totally out of whack for several years.
There’s a reason Arkansas’ vice-chancellor and director of athletics Hunter Yurachek said there’s still plenty of questions regarding granting another year of eligibility to seniors.
Yurachek also commented on Tuesday’s decision by the SEC to end the 2019-20 year in sports.
“While I am extremely disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches and our fans that the 2019-20 competitive seasons have officially come to an end, I believe the decision made today by the Southeastern Conference and its member institutions is in the best interest of all parties,” Yurachek said in a press release from the UA. “It has become readily apparent that with the current situation and what would be required to do so that any kind of resumption of competition would be highly unlikely. By making a final determination, we have enabled student-athletes to have closure related to the remainder of this season as well as move forward with the completion of the academic semester, preparation for future seasons or other opportunities that may await. As we officially close the chapter of the current athletics year, our focus turns to the future and our efforts to make the 2020-21 athletic year a special one for our student-athletes, coaches and Razorback fans.”
“I think it’s something that’s in discussion right now,” Yurachek said. “There’s a lot that goes into that. It’s not just about gaining another year of eligibility for your seniors. You’ve got juniors and sophomores and freshmen that have also lost potentially a season of eligibility. There are scholarship limit implications that go along with that. If you let your seniors come back and you’ve got incoming freshmen, you will obviously go over your roster and scholarship limits for many sports. So it’s just not as simple as saying everyone gets a year back. There’s a lot more discussion about the details, really, before you can say that’s going to happen.”
So while all the decisions being made are not popular ones right now with fans just know the people making these decisions have information that indicates there’s reasons to have these concerns and cautions. It isn’t fun, but unfortunately in March, 2020, that is where the world, not just sports and USA, is right now.