College Officials Debate a June 1 Return for Athletes

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University presidents are going to play a major role in the return of NCAA football.

They are also showing some optimism. West Virginia University president Gordon Gee told WOWK 13 News he’s confident football will be played in the fall, while The Advocate reported that SEC university presidents will vote on having players return to their respective campuses on June 1 or June 15.

Gee, 76, told WOWK 13 that he believes the NCAA will find a way to play football in a healthy way, “even if I have to suit up.” While Gee represents a Big 12 Conference university, LSU executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry let the Louisiana Economic Recovery Task Force in on the SEC’s plan.

“The presidents are going to take a vote in the SEC,” Ausberry said Thursday, unsure of when the vote will be held. “Do we come back? Do we bring the students back on June 1 or June 15?

“We would rather our football players and student-athletes to all work out here on our campus and we can manage that. That’s what we’re trying to do, the big piece of this, to bring everybody back.”

According to The Advocate, Ausberry and LSU athletic director Scott Woodward have both said that the LSU athletic department’s goal is to return players to campus on June 1.

Related content: Emmert: NCAA Won’t Mandate Uniform Start for Sports

University of Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley, a member of the Big 12, pushed back on any June 1 return date.

“In my opinion, we need to bring them in as late as we possibly can before we play a season,” Riley said, according to The Oklahoman. “Every day early that we bring them in is a day we could have gotten better. It’s a day we could’ve learned more about the virus. It’s a day PPE maybe gets better. It’s a day closer to a vaccine. It’s a day that our testing equipment and testing capabilities get better, and it’s just not worth it.

“So we’ve gotta be patient. We get one shot at this, and we’ve got to do it right.”

SEC spokesman Herb Vincent texted The Advocate that the conference is “in continuous conversations about athletics activities related to COVID-19 and will make decisions appropriately.”

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