MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Uncertainty abounds about the future of college football this fall, and Monday President Donald Trump weighed in saying schools should play the game.
“Play College Football,” Trump tweeted Monday afternoon.
The University of Memphis finalized their fall football season schedule last week in the AAC. UofM President Dr. David Rudd said as of Monday the decision still stands.
“I can’t speak for the AAC. We made our announcement a week or so ago, and that announcement is certainly still in place,” said Rudd in an interview on 92.9 ESPN. “If there is additional data and additional concerns, we will certainly take a look at that and discuss that... We are going to take a look at all information. And at the forefront of all is the health and safety of our student athletes and our communities.”
The uncertainty came about when the Mid-American Conference canceled its football season Saturday. Then this weekend both ESPN and Sports Illustrated reported the Power 5 conferences were discussing shelving their seasons, moves that would put all of college football in jeopardy.
ESPN has reported concern from athletic officials over players who have recovered from COVID-19 but experienced significant heart issues as a possible long-term side effect of the infection.
The Detroit Free Press Monday said the Big Ten had canceled football for the season and would make an announcement Tuesday.
Rudd said Monday there will likely be challenges with playing this year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
“I think it would be remarkably ill informed to think you’d get through as season without difficulties and without pauses and problems given the nature of this pandemic,” said Rudd. “That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a season of football. It does mean it would be one that would be remarkably difficult than one we have had.”
Rudd indicated he believes the piece-meal decisions are the result of a lack of uniform leadership on how to respond to COVID-19 issues.
“It’s a little disappointing that we don’t have more uniformity across conferences in terms of health opinions and a broad based understanding of health risks related to this pandemic,” he said.
Players from across conferences have weighed in on Twitter, with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, including UofM quarterback Brady White who posted a message in support of playing Monday afternoon.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said on Twitter Monday that he did not know if the conference would be able to play, but they are trying.
“We have never had a FB season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying. We support, educate, and care for student athletes every day and will continue to do so every day,” Sankey wrote.