Alabama, Auburn players respond as coronavirus leads major conferences to nix fall football schedule
Birmingham, Ala. – Teams like Ohio State, Michigan, USC, and Oregon will not be playing college football this Fall as the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences have postponed athletics until 2021. ESPN reported the primary factor was emerging data linking coronavirus to myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle. While both conferences said they will attempt to play in the Spring, it also cast doubts on the upcoming 2020-2021 college basketball season.
Football stars across the country including Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, and Alabama running back Najee Harris have all tweeted in favor of the #WeWantToPlay movement, which lists demands from players. Likely causing the most consternation for university administrators is the demand to “ultimately create a college football player’s association” which would overturn the amateur status of college players, and allow payments to players and agent
conversations, while also permitting players to make money off their likeness and image. Some college football observers have theorized the Big Ten and Pac-12 are shutting down, not for coronavirus fears, but more to prevent the unionization of the players.
The season is only a little over six weeks away for the SEC and other conferences who have yet to postponed or cancel their seasons.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement that he looks forward to learning more about the reasons behind the Big Ten and Pac-12 decision to cancel fall sports. Sankey said he “remains comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes.” The Big 12, which includes powerhouse programs like Texas and Oklahoma, said in a statement that their athletes want to play and “it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome.” The ACC, which includes Clemson and Florida State, has
also communicated their intention to continue to attempt to play the Fall season.
Hurdles remain for all the conferences, as thousands of students are returning to campus on top of the upcoming Labor Day holiday that may present obstacles to social distancing rules in a college setting.
Meanwhile Alabama reported 875 new cases today, continuing a downward trend that began at the end of July. An additional 33 deaths were also reported. Alabama now has over 100,000 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with over 1,800 COVID-19 related deaths statewide.