UConn Becomes the 1st Major College Football Progam to Pull the Plug on Its Season Due to the Coronavirus. It Won't Be the Last

Zavier Scott #10 of the Connecticut Huskies warms up before the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Zavier Scott #10 of the Connecticut Huskies warms up before the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Photo: Justin Casterline (Getty Images)

College football is in a precarious situation.

Unlike the NFL and MLB, who are moving forward with their seasons despite COVID-19 infiltrating their ranks, the NCAA’s pool of players is entirely comprised of unpaid amateur athletes. Sportscaster Bob Costas said it best when he recently addressed the expectation that student-athletes should risk their health and safety in order to generate billions of dollars for everyone but themselves.

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“Think of the size of football rosters and think of the nature of the sport with contact on every play. And then, think about college football,” Costas explained on CNN’s Facts & Fears: Coronavirus Town Hall. “The idea of playing college football under these circumstances, players not compensated, no union to protect them. That’s unconscionable.”

Pretty much.

And while various teams and conferences mull their options, UConn has decided to graciously bow out of their upcoming season entirely. Citing the guidance of state and public health officials, UConn becomes the 1st FBS program to do so.

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“We’ve decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season,” David Benedict, UConn’s athletic director, said in a statement. “The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.”

In making their decision, UConn sought input from their roster of student-athletes.

“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 added. “Ultimately, the student-athletes would rather preserve their year of eligibility with an eye to competing under more typical circumstances during the 2021 season.”

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As the headline of this article alludes to, this is kind of a big deal and could be the first domino to fall in what may lead to the eventual cancelation of the entire NCAA football season.

On Wednesday, players from the Big Ten conference released a 24-point plan, aptly titled the “Big Ten Unity Proposal,” that outlines their concerns regarding the safety measures in place to address COVID-19.

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“The NCAA—which is known for its zeal for regulations and enforcement—has had ample time to prepare for the safe return of its athletes to competition, yet it has done nothing,” their statement reads. “Its laissez-faire approach is forcing each conference and each school to create its own plan, resulting in inconsistent policies, procedures and protocols.”

But as this statement notes, this proposal is only from players representing a single conference. What about the other nine conferences and the 130 schools they’re comprised of?

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Another option on the table is pushing college football back into the string.

“I think we need to be prepared to do it, and I think it should be viewed as a viable option,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told ESPN in July. “We’re going to learn so much from the NBA and NHL and Major League Baseball in the next few weeks, and if, for example, those efforts go poorly, it’s probably going to be a really critical data point for us, and we’ll argue for [a] delay. If that occurs, I think you’ve gotta be open to the spring.”

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Uhhhh... as increased positive coronavirus tests and subsequent postponements have proven, “those efforts” are definitely going poorly in Major League Baseball. And as for the NFL, both big-name athletes and role players have opted out of participating this upcoming season—a total of 50 and counting.

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With billions of dollars at stake, I expect the NCAA to put up the fight of its life and proceed with its plans for college football this fall. But as UConn has proven already, the NCAA might not have a choice.

Illustration for article titled UConn Becomes the 1st Major College Football Progam to Pull the Plug on Its Season Due to the Coronavirus. It Wont Be the Last
Screenshot: @SethAbramson

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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DISCUSSION

indefinitebuhloonemindstate
indefinitebuhloonemindstate

I am glad UConn did this. But there are two things to consider. First, they are an independent in college football, which means they do not answer to a conference and its commissioner. Second, UConn historically sucks at football. They have been a basketball-men’s and women’s-since the early-1980s. Almost all of the revenue their athletic department generates is from basketball.

W/ all of this said, I am finished w/ college sports, and football in particular, for the way the NCAA and conference commissioners have come out and openly stated revenues are more important than players’ health. Also, w/ what has come out about the PAC 12 and SEC in the last week have also made it abundantly clear white college football fans only view these student-athletes as entertainment and nothing more.

If there is no college football this fall, and I hope there isn’t, the rednecks in states like Alabama who have no pro teams for obvious reasons, won’t have anything to entertainment or chert for. American will be saved from having to hear “Roll Tide” by some drunk asshole who has zero affiliation w/ UA except for that he bought one of their shirts at Walmart(s) and possibly goes to campus on a few Saturdays a year to get piss drunk and litter.

I have this really novel idea. Maybe we should be rooting for a college or school based on their academic achievements, community outreach, and positive impact on the nation/world based on their graduates’ achievements and not sports. Just an idea.