Schuck's Clipboard

Decisions made for greater good only ones making sense

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 9, 2020 12:01 am

The fate of fall college sports, namely football, comes down to two things.

Cents and sensibility.

Those chasing one don't seem to have much of the other.

Friday night, the Missouri Valley Football Conference moved its league games to the spring. Saturday, the Mid-American Conference became the first FBS conference to postpone, moving all of its fall sports to the spring. Meanwhile, the Power 5 conferences continue holding out hope for game days and paydays, forging forward with plans to play this fall.

But at what cost does making money come?

In this case, it will be in lives and long-term health effects. That will happen even if no players contract or become symptomatic with COVID-19.

According to guidelines adopted by the NCAA in July, players need to be tested and results received within 72 hours of competition. For a Southeastern Conference school like Mizzou, which will play 10 games and has an active roster of roughly 110 players, that's 1,100 tests performed in a season.

That's 1,100 potentially sick people who need to be tested who may have to wait for a test or wait longer for results. That could be deadly if results take too long to process.

Those were factors the Great Lakes Valley Conference administrators took into account when they decided to forego the fall and move all its championship sports to the spring.

"What came up during the course of the conversations was we can't be tone deaf to the fact Quincy University, for example, is going to require X number of tests throughout the course of the year when you have senior citizens, hospitals and other groups in need of testing," GLVC commissioner Jim Naumovich said. "We need to be a good partner in the communities we reside.

"I'm not sure all of the presidents or athletic directors were sure how many tests would be needed, while knowing every test we take could have gone to a senior citizen who needed one."

Similar concerns seem to be missing from the Power 5 conference decisions.

Their judgment is clouded with dollar signs, some might say understandably so.

In 2019, the SEC generated $720 million in revenue. The year before, each Big Ten Conference school received more than $50 million from the conference's revenue sharing. Losing a bulk of that, no matter how much you have in reserve, is quite a hit.

Loss of life -- now or in the future -- because of this virus is a much more serious hit.

Decisions have to be made with everything in mind, not just those playing the game, but those watching, listening or reading about it as well.

As Quincy University vice president of intercollegiate athletics Marty Bell said, "We have an obligation to do what's right for the greater good."

The GLVC did that. The MIAA did, too. A host of NCAA Division II and III conferences chose the same route.

Most Division I conferences have not, at least not until Saturday when Northern Illinois University and its president, Lisa Freeman, spearheaded the discussions that led to a high-profile league shifting its football season to the spring and giving hope that humanity is more important than hundred dollar bills.

"I can't do it at the expense of people's lives. I can't do that and I won't do that. Not on my watch," NIU athletic director Sean Frazier told reporters during a Zoom video conference.

The GLVC presidents and athletic directors said the same thing with their decisive action.

"There were those who were in favor of delaying until October 1 in hopes the availability, affordability and reliability of testing would improve and the cost would go down," Naumovich said. "At the end of the day, there was so much uncertainty.

"We had to do what's right for the student-athletes, the staffs, the on-campus community and the communities who support us wholeheartedly."

That makes the perfect kind of sense.