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Michigan President: No Football If No In-Person Classes

Paul Steinbach

University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel, a trained immunologist, has maintained since May that football games won't take place in Ann Arbor if students aren't allowed to return to campus for in-person instruction.

“If there is no on-campus instruction then there won’t be intercollegiate athletics, at least for Michigan,” Schlissel told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published last week, as reported by the Detroit Free Press. He also expressed "some degree of doubt as to whether there will be college athletics, at least in the fall.”

As reported by the Free Press, while other universities have declared there will be college football and teams are on the verge of bringing their athletes back to campus (Ohio State's football team will reportedly return to Columbus on June 8, while Illinois football and basketball will return between June 3-8), Michigan is taking a more patient approach — which is also necessitated given the state's current stay-at-home order has been extended through June 12. The Wolverines will not return to campus and voluntary workouts before then.

Schlissel told The Wall Street Journal that when the football team returns to campus, the players and staff could be tested regularly. He also expressed doubts about the ability to allow fans to attend games at Michigan Stadium, which has a capacity of 107,601. “I can’t imagine a way to do that safely,” Schlissel said.

Moreover, if sports aren't a go for the fall, it's likely that the spring season would also be canceled, according to Schlissel. “Any decision we make for this coming fall is likely going to be the case for the whole academic year," he said. "What’s going to be different in January?”

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