University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel has nixed the return of football, unless on-campus classes have also restarted.
Some thought that the Wolverines could return whether the rest of the campus had reopened or not, but Schlissel shot that idea down, the Detroit News reported.
“If there is no on-campus instruction then there won’t be intercollegiate athletics, at least for Michigan,” Schlissel told the Wall Street Journal. He later added he has “some degree of doubt as to whether there will be college athletics (anywhere), at least in the fall.”
Schlissel also noted that however they decide to reopen the campus, that plan will stay intact for the rest of the school year.
The school’s announcement seemed to run contrary to plans floated by the NCAA Division I Council, which was working for an early college football return. The sport’s governing body voted to approve the re-opening of college football and women’s basketball beginning on June 1.
Some colleges, including Ohio State, have already told athletes that they can begin using training facilities in the first week of June.
Still, Schlissel says he imagines that on-campus classes might resume for the fall semester. “We’re hoping to have a fall semester,” he told the Detroit News. “What I am calling it is a public-health-informed fall semester.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh recently said he would be okay with playing in an empty stadium.
“Heck yeah I’d be comfortable coaching a game without any fans,” Harbaugh said. “If the choice were, play in front of no fans or not play, then I would choose to play in front of no fans. And darn near every guy I’ve talked to on our team, that’s the way they feel about it.”
Harbaugh also noted that it is probably unrealistic to assume that a stadium full of fans could be tested and determined to be free of the coronavirus.
"Heck yeah I'd be comfortable coaching a game without any fans. If the choice were play in front of no fans or not play, then I would choose to play in front of no fans."
—Jim Harbaugh pic.twitter.com/12O2kDP5gN
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 20, 2020
In another interview last week, Harbaugh said that the first move is to get the university’s gyms and training facilities reopened. Then they can think about games.
“Eventually, you look at playing games. Is that possible? That’s the No. 1 question that our players have, and we have,” he said. “But you can see the path that you could play with players being tested, coaches being tested. Referees, that if you test negative, you can participate in the game.”
“So, let the kids play. Hopefully, we’ll get some more good news as the summer progresses,” he concluded.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.