With the COVID-19 pandemic still infiltrating the institutional fabrics of society, University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel didn’t leave a lot of room for optimism about college football being played this fall in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Schlissel has “some degree of doubt as to whether there will be collegiate athletics, at least in the fall.”
“If there is no on-campus instruction then there won’t be intercollegiate athletics, at least for Michigan,” Schlissel said. A decision about the fall semester may come in the next few weeks, per Schlissel. “Any decision we make for this coming fall is likely going to be the case for the whole academic year,” Schlissel said. “What’s going to be different in January?”
While other universities such as Purdue have already announced they plan on having student on campus this fall while taking necessary precautions, and other institutions like Notre Dame have opted for having students on-campus with the option to take online courses, Michigan is taking an all-or-nothing approach.
It’s late May and there’s still time before fall athletics begin for an effective treatment to emerge and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Further, there’s room for optimism that a vaccine could be produced in mass by January. However, those are best case scenarios and every type of scenario needs to be planned for. Schlissel, who’s an immunologist, is naturally taking a measured and cautious approach to the uncertainty that lies ahead, but there’s still a chance a positive scenario materializes and college athletics transpire this fall in some form. Let’s hope.