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Fate of college football season unknown

Colorado athletic director Rick George addresses scenarios for 2020 season

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College football likely won’t be played if campuses aren’t open in the fall.

But, if there is college football in 2020-21, could games be played in empty stadiums? Or moved to next winter or spring?

With concerns of the coronavirus still present, anything is possible.

“There’s a lot of different scenarios on the table,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said Thursday in a conference call with media. “Could the season be pushed back? That’s a scenario. Could it start on time? That’s a scenario. There’s a lot of things out there being discussed.”

University of Colorado's Terrance Lang pressures ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer
Multiple scenarios are present regarding the college football season next fall, including playing in empty stadiums or pushing the schedule back along with all other fall sports. The question was addressed by CU athletic director Rick George on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick conducted a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence. According to reports, the call was positive and while no significant news came of it, the basic message was that commissioners told Pence that campuses must be open to students to play football.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who was on the call with Pence, told CBSSports.com, “Our players are students. If we’re not in college, we’re not having contests. Our message was, we need to get universities and colleges back open, that we were education-based programs, and we weren’t going to have sports until we had something closer to normal college going on.”

If colleges are open and games are played as scheduled, there has been talk of playing in empty stadiums.

“I think that would be challenging,” George said Thursday. “It would be different, obviously. Where that goes at this point we really don’t know. We continue to have conversations in our conference and nationally about what that would look like. Until we get more clarity on what the future looks like, it would just be premature for me to address that.”

Another scenario being discussed is the possibility of pushing the fall sports season back, even into 2021.

“We’re not just talking about football; we’re talking about all fall sports,” George said. “If football doesn’t play or it’s pushed back, it would be very similar to all of our other fall sports. Certainly football, we know, is significant because of the revenue that it generates. We’re looking at that closely. As we go through these different scenarios, the health and safety of our student athletes is primary.”

Also of concern is how to go about selling tickets for football games. With uncertainty about the season, it’s difficult to promote the games, but CU continues to have tickets for sale.

“Immediately when we started canceling basketball tournaments, we extended our timeline for season ticket renewals,” George said. “Is it difficult to sell? Certainly with the unknowns, but we’ve got a pretty loyal fan base and donor base that has been very supportive. We still continue to sell tickets, but we’ve extended our deadline into May and we may extend that again.

“We’re going to continue to sell tickets and we’ll have to make some determinations as we get a little clearer on what the future looks like.”

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