Mike Locksley Explains Emotional Decision from Big Ten while Providing Glimpse into New Plans for Fall
Head coach Mike Locksley held his first virtual press conference on Thursday since Tuesday’s decision from the Big Ten to postpone the fall season. The indecisive decision-making from the Big Ten in recent weeks left a dark cloud lingering over the fall season as stringent regulations and protocols were put in place to protect student-athletes and coaching staffs, but Locksley notes that Tuesday was a “rough day” within the program.
“My heart breaks for our players they worked really hard over the last couple of months here and to no fault of their own football has been taken away from them. We had guys that have gone through extensive rehabs in an effort to play, best shape of their lives,” Locksley said. “We have guys ready to go play their senior seasons which is their last shot and to tell them there’s no football now is a tough pill to swallow, hard for all of us, obviously it’s postponed. One thing I can tell you is I’m extremely proud of the work these guys have put in and how they’ve adjusted, this has been really fluid for all football programs across the country and one thing that we’ve talked to all of our players about constantly is that there’s always going to be change and it could be a really fluid situation. Each and every one of our players have done a tremendous job just handling the uncertainty and not knowing and adjusting with everything thrown their way.”
The opening days of preseason camp provided an anticlimactic feeling as fans tempered excitement with doubt for the upcoming season, but head coach Mike Locksley paused workouts in light of conflicting information out of the Big Ten. “As we prepared for the start of training camp, it was business as usual, we got two helmet practices in before the information kind of changed and the Big Ten decided for us to not progress in the shoulder pads, so we again adjusted because the rules changed for us I think on Saturday after we got done with our second helmet practice. Sunday, Monday was their normal day off and prepared to go Monday helmets again, then the information continued to adjust, I made a decision for our program that until we had some information that we needed, that we would pause practices and meetings. We stayed in our semi-bubble over at The Hotel, which was the host of our training camp, we did that Sunday, which was the day off, Monday and Tuesday before the information came out late Tuesday. Yeah, we adjusted in terms of not going out and continuing to practice. I didn’t feel it was in our best interest as a program to put our players in harm’s way without knowing the direction we were going to go as a conference.”
Players began moving out of The Hotel following Tuesday’s news although Maryland’s student-athletes are still permitted to remain on campus to resume workouts as they adhere to existing protocols. The coaching staff, however, is to drawing board to game plan for the next six months. “We laid out a plan and adhere to strict protocols since June 1 and they’ve each done everything we’ve asked of them. we’ve had zero positives since July 8 and that’s a credit to them, they wanted to do the things necessary to give themselves a chance to play. Right now, where we are as a program is, we’re in the process of creating a plan for this fall. We’re allowing our players to remain on campus and continue to work out, obviously if they decide to remain on campus and workout, they’ll still have to adhere to the protocols that are in place, which allows us to have a safe environment for our players. Players and staff will continue to work, continue to be tested regularly and hoping that they take advantage of this extra time to improve physically, mentally and in the classroom as we start classes on August 31. We’ll continue to watch things as the NCAA comes out with eligibility as the Big Ten conference comes out with information on the possibilities of spring/winter schedule looks like and we’ll be prepared to make adjustments as we see fit and hopefully begin preparation here.”
Arguably the biggest question for both Big Ten and Pac-12 student-athletes surrounds eligibility for seniors who exhausted eligibility. As players across the country remain patient for answers, Locksley sees a more precise answer in the coming days.
“Everything eligibility-wise starts with the NCAA. I know there’s been talk and meetings that have been held in the last day or two with the NCAA and board of directors in terms of eligibility and it would be my expectation, kind of what took place this spring with some of our spring sports that lost eligibility or that didn’t play, that the NCAA will grant seniors that are exhausting eligibility an extra year and maybe give a little more concrete answers so I would envision guys that have a year of eligibility left that if the season is cancelled, right now it’s postponed, but they would be given another year of eligibility but that creates another issue on campus where from a fiscal standpoint, say you have 25 seniors graduating and bringing in 25 guys, which the NCAA allows you to do both, so now we find ourselves in a situation where we possibly have 110 guys on scholarship which financially I don’t know if we’d be able to do that. There’s still more questions than answers, I do anticipate the NCAA coming out with a little more concrete answers on the eligibility piece which I think will be in favor of the student-athlete to retain the year of eligibility if we were to not play and give us the ability on our campuses to figure out how and if we would be able to manage those types of numbers.”