Rick George isn’t sure when – or if – spring football practices will begin for the Colorado Buffaloes.
In fact, the CU athletic director is like just about everybody else in not knowing what’s going to come next as the world-wide concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus continues.
During a conference call with media on Tuesday, George said he and his staff are doing all they can to make sure CU’s staff and student-athletes are cared for at this time.
“We all know that this is a very challenging environment that we’re in today, and I can tell you that the health and wellness of our student-athletes is our highest priority,” George said. “We’ve been in constant communication with our student-athletes, their families and our coaches and staff and, as you know, things change in minutes and sometimes hours and days, but we’ve got an incredible leadership team that’s around me.”
Concerns about the spread of the coronavirus have caused sports around the world to be shut down. The NCAA has canceled all spring sporting events, while campuses and conferences continue to adjust to new recommendations coming from local and federal government.
On Tuesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference canceled all athletic activities, including practices, through the end of the academic year.
While the Pac-12 has canceled all competitions for the school year, it has not canceled practices yet.
CU, meanwhile, has now closed all of its workout areas to athletes and encouraged those who can to go home through at least spring break. Previously, CU had announced that workout facilities would be available to those athletes still on campus.
“What we learned very quickly is we’ve got to be very adaptive and when we can be proactive, we should be,” George said.
George said the number of student-athletes still on campus “changes daily,” but there has been constant communication with the students and their families. He added that because of that communication, “We know where everybody is at currently.”
For the student-athletes who remain in Boulder, including international students who are unable to go home, the food services on campus will still be available.
“From day one, we’ve been in lockstep with our campus,” George said. “I think it’s important that athletics follows what our campus is doing and the communication has been excellent.
“We’re comfortable with where we are right now, knowing that things can change. We’ve got a good team and we’re focused on what’s best for our student-athletes, our staff and certainly our university.”
As for spring football, there is no telling when or if it will happen. The Buffs were scheduled to have the first of their 15 spring practices on Monday. Currently, they are on hold until at least the end of spring break (March 29). It seems increasingly unlikely the Buffs would hit the practice field immediately after the break, however.
“What we’re focused on right now is what we’re doing on a day to day basis,” George said. “What that will mean for spring football, those are discussions that we’ll have at the conference level and at the national level with the NCAA. Those calls are ongoing and we’re starting to have those calls.”
George said the Pac-12 athletic directors communicate daily about what is going on with each campus, as well as about broader issues.
George added that conducting spring football practices in May or June is “a possibility” at this point.
“We certainly would push for that, given a new staff and the preparedness for the upcoming year,” he said. “Again, we’ll have those discussions with the right people both at the conference level and the national level.”
CU head football coach Karl Dorrell has been on the job less than a month and many of his assistants have been hired within the last two weeks, so not having spring practices could hurt the development of the Buffs. The staff has been busy, however.
“I think what they’re doing right now is they’re getting to know each other, which I think is important,” George said. “I think the coaches are able to look offensively and defensively and special teams at ideas on what they’re going to do moving forward. Also they’re probably looking and breaking down a lot of the opponents’ film for the next year.”
Recruiting is ongoing, as well.
“They’re working hard and they’re getting to know each other,” George said. “The student-athletes that are here, I’m sure they’re coming in and talking to the coaches and doing that and talking to them about football and philosophies and different things like that.”