The Coronavirus Crisis and Sports: Where Things Stand Heading Into June

A look at how sports, including college football, area dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the best of Sports Illustrated
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With the NCAA's ban of on-campus training activities due to be lifted on June 1, the college sports governing body appears to be inching closer to making preparations for the fall sports season.

What that means for Alabama has yet to be determined, except that like many other SEC schools decision to open its facilities to athletes workouts beginning June 8. 

On Thursday, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported the NCAA's football oversight committee is expected to recommend a six-week preseason camp for the 2020 season. 

The committee is expected to sort out the particular details within the next week before submitting an official proposal. A submission for final approval to the NCAA Division I Council is expected for mid-June.

According to SI's Ross Dellenger, the six-week program would begin in mid-to-late July and would incorporate two weeks of NFL-style OTA practices before a four-week camp in August. Teams that kick off on Aug. 29, would begin OTA practices July 18, while teams kicking off on Labor Day would start July 25. 

OTA practices would be more like walk-throughs, which would help make up for lost time during spring practices. Of the 130 FBS programs, 52 never started spring practice including Alabama.

 "Six weeks could be optimal, but four could be the minimum,” said West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, who's also a member of the NCAA Division I Council and the football oversight committee.

• The NCAA extended its recruiting dead period through the end of July. Football already had a dead period on its calendar from June 22 to July 24, though the decision impacts all Division I sports. The move also means that the early-signing period may be in jeopardy this year. 

• College football conference and television networks agreed to postpone the announcement of start times for early-season games. CBS Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports and their affiliated networks typically announce early game times for the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences on June 1.

• According to a report from ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Paula Lavigne, a canceled college football season would result in a $4 billion loss for college athletic programs across the country. 

• Gary Barta, Iowa’s athletics director who was named chair of the College Football Playoff committee earlier this year, said during video conference with reporters that the principles of putting together the four-team field won’t change, but the methodology could during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We haven’t worked out any specifics,” he said.

• The SEC has relaxed admission rules governing graduate transfers. During the final day of their virtual spring meetings Thursday, SEC presidents and chancellors approved a proposal to ease a restriction that required graduate transfers to enroll in graduate school at his or her new school. 

The new legislation, an amendment to a bylaw, allows grad transfers to pursue a second undergraduate degree, according to the proposal obtained by Sports Illustrated. The SEC’s decision aligns its policy with that of the NCAA, which made the change to its graduate transfer legislation in April. 

• Those expecting Alabama and USC not to open the season in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 5 as scheduled may have jumped the gun.  The latest sign came Tuesday, when Pac-12 school leaders announced that players could return to campus as soon as June 15. And while it may be a long shot for UCLA, USC, Stanford and Cal to reopen facilities by that date, most feel that a July start date isn’t just possible, but is very much expected.

“We’re extremely optimistic that we’re going to play a 12-game season. I’m excited about the opportunity to play Alabama, a rivalry game like Notre Dame and a nine-game conference schedule,” USC coach Clay Helton. “Things are trending in the right direction. We’re seeing progress.”

Nick Saban made an appearance in the 26th annual L'Arche Mobile Football Preview, which went virtual for the first time, but didn't offer much of an update on the team. 

"Some of the things I really like about this team so far is, we have the best attention to detail, the most disciple, guys going to class on and off the field, guys doing a good job in the offseason program and not having a lot of issues and problems, but because we did not have spring practice it is really hard to evaluate the progress, especially of the younger players who are less experienced and who benefit the most from spring practice," he said. "Hopefully, if we can get back to our summer program, we will be able to systematically implement something that will the development so these guys will be a little more ready for fall camp."

Did you notice?

• SI senior writer Tom Verducci took a look back at another delayed season in MLB history. In 1981, the league was fraught with distrust between players and owners which led to the players holding out until August with a strike. The 1981 MLB season was wild and tumultuous as one would expect 80s baseball to be, but the shortened season didn't yield much change in run production. It's a yearly conversation among baseball fans whether it will be a hitter's year or a pitcher's year. As for this year? As Verducci says, "We just don't know."

• The Premier League has a full plan in place to resume play on June 17

• Matthew Stevens at Illini Now did a deep dive on Illinois and its success in landing transfers: 'Sometimes, Divorce Is a Good Thing': How & Why Lovie Smith Turned Illinois Into ‘Transfer Portal U’

• Verducci spoke with Vin Scully about the return of baseball

• The NHL unrolled Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol, which has fans excited, but it also leaves almost nothing to chance.

• Damian Lillard says if the NBA restarts its season without giving bubble teams a legitimate shot to make the playoffs, he’s not playing. .

• The Dolphins are turning their stadium into a drive-in movie theater.

Melvin Gordon was interviewed by former NFL cornerback Marcus Cromartie (his former Wisconsin teammate) and was asked about the prospect of playing without fans. “Bro, we didn’t have fans anyway,” Gordon said.