Keith Carter: "I'm Less Optimistic Today About a Normal Start"

Nate Gabler

"It’s time to decide ‘Hey, are we going to start on time or push this thing down the road?’"

That was Ole Miss Vice Chancellor of Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter, speaking Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger yesterday in Washington D.C.

Over the course of the past few months, Carter had been quite optimistic about the regular return of the college football season.

That confidence is now waning. 

Carter was in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, part of a contingent appearing in front of Congress regarding name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes. 

According Dellenger, who attended the proceedings, the conversation quickly turned to COVID-19 and the response among colleges.

Carter was one of five witnesses on the NCAA panel, joining SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Ohio State president emeritus and chairman of the NCAA Board of Governors Michael Drake and others. 

When speaking to the nation's leaders, and later to Dellenger, Carter admitted that there is growing pessimism for a normal college football season. 

“On June 1, I was really optimistic about everything, but I’m less optimistic today about a normal start,” Carter said to Dellenger. “We may start on time but as far as what our crowds look like… This is going to be interesting over the next two to three weeks, because we have to put our foot on base."

Regardless of Carter's growing concerns, Commissioner Sankey iterated that he's still focused on a standard season kicking off Labor Day Weekend.

That said, Sankey admitted to looking at a contingency plan that included playing football in the spring.

“When I’ve said we’re looking at contingencies, that’s always been one of those elements of 18-20 possibilities," Sankey said. "You have to think about, ‘What will you know in January that will be different?’ It’s been difficult to predict. We have to be careful in our decision making. Even amidst the concerning data now, we want to make sure we take care of our young people first and then we’ll see what happens through July to make decisions.”

That idea of playing in the spring, with health concerns and an April NFL Draft and then a subsequent fall season in 2021 has understandably raised a lot of concerns over past months.

Sankey said that he did not have a timetable on determining if the season will certainly be played. That said, he mentioned a window of time between now and August – the start of pre-season camp – as the one to make that decision. 

More from The Grove Report:

Behind Enemy Sidelines: NCAA Player Empowerment and a Less Toxic Egg Bowl?

June Recruiting Wrap-up: Where Does Ole Miss Stand With the Class of 2021?

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