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AAC Commissioner: Athletes Coming to Closed Campuses Would Be 'Acceptable'

The NCAA canceled all spring and winter sports on March 12, and there is little guarantee athletics return in the fall as the United States battles the COVID-19 crisis. And as uncertainty looms on college campuses across the nation, commissioners throughout the NCAA are currently working to have athletics on campus beginning in the fall of 2020. 

American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco was one of 10 commissioners–along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick–to speak with Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger about the potential for college sports in 2020. There are a number of logistical hurdles for the NCAA, but Aresco believes there is a way to continue athletics even with closed campuses in the fall. 

"Let’s assume there are only a small group of students on campus and the rest of the students are taking virtual classes," Aresco said. "Well, can the football players or soccer players come on campus? Is that going to be acceptable? I myself think it would be acceptable."

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby echoed Aresco's sentiment, but not all commissioners are on board with athletics held in an empty campus. 

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"We’ve felt that if our campuses are uncomfortable having students back on campus, we could not envision having student athletes back on campus competing," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told Forde and Dellenger.

The California State University system announced on Wednesday that it does not plan to hold in-person class in the fall of 2020. The 10 schools within the University of California system told CNN, "it's likely none of our campuses will fully re-open in fall." 

A decision to continue with the 2020 college football schedule as currently constituted must be made, "over the next five to seven weeks," per Forde and Dellenger.