The coronavirus and college sports: NCAA reopening plans, latest news, program cuts, more

Best-case scenario for Big Ten football this season (0:43)

Heather Dinich details the Big Ten's goals for this season, including playing 10 conference games with the division games front-loaded. (0:43)

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rattle the college sports landscape, leaving many questions unanswered.

But before a new normal can begin to take shape, colleges and universities will have to find a safe way to reopen campuses. Complex, high-stakes public health issues need to be dealt with before there is a good sense of what college sports will look like.

Here is the latest news and updates from the college sports world.

Jump to: Latest news | What will football look like? | When will schools reopen? | What about the CFP? | Program, financial cuts

Latest news: ACC, Big 12 say football decision to come in "late July"

Friday, July 10: Both the ACC and Big 12 both announced that the decision to play college football will come in "late July." The Big Ten's decision on Thursday influenced the timetable for the conferences.

Pac-12 takes Big Ten's approach: The Pac-12 voted in favor of conference-only play this fall. The decision comes a day after the Big Ten announced a conference-only plan for all fall sports.

No change yet for NCAA Tournament: The NCAA's senior vice president of basketball, Dan Gavitt, announced Friday that there is no plan in place to shift the NCAA men's tournament in 2021. Gavitt said it's "premature to consider dramatic alternatives" at the moment.

Duke coach in favor of conference only play: David Cutcliffe said on Friday that he's "very optimistic" about college football but that it's "going to be disrupted." Due to the disruption, Cutcliffe is in favor of a conference only schedule for the ACC, much like the Big Ten's plan.

Thursday, July 9: The Big Ten on Thursday announced it will be going to a conference-only season for all fall sports, including football, amid "unprecedented times" during the coronavirus pandemic.

ACC delays start: The ACC will delay the start of competition for all fall sports until at least Sept. 1, the league announced Thursday. The move will affect several sports, including soccer and field hockey, but not football.

Irish AD: On-time start to season 'less likely': Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Thursday he thinks it's "less likely" the college football season starts on time, citing growing concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

No plans to move 2021 NCAA tournament: Dan Gavitt, the NCAA's senior vice president of basketball, said the organization doesn't have any plans to move the NCAA tournament in 2021. While the coronavirus is already impacting fall sports throughout the country, Gavitt told ESPN it's "premature to consider dramatic alternatives" for college basketball's multibillion-dollar conclusion.

NC State has five test positive for coronavirus: North Carolina State says five people tied to Wolfpack sports have tested positive for COVID-19.

Wednesday, July 8: The Ivy League has ruled out playing all sports this fall, executive director Robin Harris told ESPN on Wednesday, marking the first major college decision about the status of fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio State pauses voluntary workouts: Ohio State has paused all voluntary workouts on campus following the results of its most recent COVID-19 testing of student-athletes, the school announced on Wednesday, but it didn't release the number of positive tests, citing a concern it could "lead to the identification of specific individuals and compromise their medical privacy."

UNC halts voluntary workouts: North Carolina says it has paused voluntary football workouts for at least a week after reporting 37 positive test results for the new coronavirus among school athletes, coaches and staff.

Stanford to cut 11 sports: Stanford will cut 11 of its varsity programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year as it deals with the ongoing financial ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. The 11 sports that will be discontinued are men's and women's fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men's rowing, co-ed and women's sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men's volleyball and wrestling.


Ivy League postpones fall sports until 2021

Heather Dinich details the Ivy League's decision to rule out all fall sports until at least 2021 and how this could impact other major conferences.

Wisconsin has 7 coronavirus positives in month: Wisconsin says seven of its athletes have tested positive for the new coronavirus since the school started testing them a month ago.

Wrigley won't host Northwestern-Wisconsin: Northwestern's Nov. 7 game against Wisconsin will not take place at Chicago's Wrigley Field, as originally planned, the Wildcats said on Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 7: Louisville has temporarily suspended all men's basketball voluntary activities for two weeks after two members of the program tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the school announced Tuesday.

Monday, July 6: The Power 5 football conference leaders have told ESPN they still aren't ready to make any major changes to the sport's calendar, instead targeting the end of July to determine if the season can start on time. The transition from voluntary to mandatory workouts is already here, as schools that open the season on Aug. 29 could begin required workouts Monday. For teams that begin the season Labor Day weekend, required workouts will begin July 13, followed by an enhanced training schedule that begins July 24 and a normal, four-week preseason camp starting Aug. 7.

Wednesday, July 1: A total of 14 Oklahoma football players have tested positive for the coronavirus, along with two of the 72 staff members who were tested, the school announced Wednesday as it began voluntary workouts. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the athletic department also announced it has implemented budget cuts of approximately $13.7 million, including a 10% salary reduction for any employee earning $1 million or more per year.


Finebaum says he doubts college football will start on time

Paul Finebaum doesn't see how the college football season could begin on time but explains why playing in the spring is "beyond the last resort" for Power 5 conferences.

Penn State AD: Spring football 'last resort': Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said a spring college football season "would be a last resort" to safely squeeze in the sport during the coronavirus pandemic, citing the impact it would have on the 2021 fall season as a major hurdle.

Pitino suggests later start: Rick Pitino wants college basketball officials to consider a later start as the coronavirus pandemic continues to complicate plans for the return of college sports. Pitino, the two-time NCAA champion who was hired in March as Iona's new head coach, tweeted Wednesday that college basketball should start in January and teams should only play league games in hopes of "getting things under control" with COVID-19.

Monday, June 29: Arizona paused its plan to bring athletes back to campus Monday, citing a surge in COVID-19 cases in Pima County and its impact on the local healthcare system. The school started bringing back athletes June 15 for voluntary workouts in groups of approximately 20, with new groups arriving each week.

Michigan salary reductions: The University of Michigan athletic department is projecting a budget deficit of $26.1 million for the 2021 fiscal year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and as part of expense-reducing initiatives, athletic director Warde Manuel, football coach Jim Harbaugh and men's basketball coach Juwan Howard will all accept a 10% salary reduction from August 1, 2020, through the end of the fiscal year.

Friday, June 26: The total number of coronavirus cases on the Clemson football team rose to 37 this month after 14 more positive tests. Clemson has had 47 total cases across all sports.


Hardaway says 4 Memphis players tested positive for COVID-19

Memphis head basketball coach Penny Hardaway says four of his players tested positive for COVID-19 and explains how he's communicating with his team during difficult times.

Texas Tech positive cases: Texas Tech announced Friday that 23 members of the football team have tested positive for the coronavirus. All but two of the athletes have fully recovered since being tested on June 15.

Monday, June 22: Boise State has closed campus facilities, including those for athletics, for the remainder of the week amid an increase in "community-based" coronavirus cases, the school said Monday. In a school press release, Boise State said eight positive or presumed positive coronavirus cases were discovered across campus.

Five more Baylor athletes test positive: Five more Baylor athletes have tested positive for COVID-19, the school said Monday, making it eight positives from among 109 tests conducted in the process of returning to campus for voluntary workouts and conditioning.

Patriot League restricts travel: The seven-member Patriot League announced its guidelines for the return of sports, including a shortened season and restrictions on travel. The conference schedule will begin at the end of September and finish before Thanksgiving; and no Patriot League teams would fly to games, and with rare exceptions, regular-season overnight travel will be prohibited.

Thursday, June 18: The University of Texas announced that 13 football players have confirmed positive coronavirus test results or are presumed positive. All 13 players are now self-isolating, and 10 more players identified through contact tracing are in self-quarantine but asymptomatic at this time, according to a statement from the university.

Virtual ACC media days: The ACC will hold media days virtually July 21-23, the league announced Thursday.

Wednesday, June 17: The NCAA Division I Council approved a six-week practice plan that begins in July and will transition teams from the current voluntary workouts amid the coronavirus pandemic to the typical mandatory meetings and preseason camps to prepare for the 2020 football season.

NCAA allows D-1 summer basketball activities starting July 20: The NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday approved summer plans for men's and women's basketball, allowing required summer athletics activities to begin July 20.

HBCU game canceled over coronavirus: The Southern Heritage Classic, which since 1990 has annually matched football teams from historically black colleges and universities at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the game's promoters announced Wednesday. Jackson State and Tennessee State were scheduled to play in the 31st Southern Heritage Classic on Sept. 12.


How are colleges trying to enforce football player safety?

NCAA football players' return to campus, including documents that vow student-athletes will follow health and safety protocols.

Buckeyes players, parents asked to sign waiver: Ohio State football players and their parents were asked to sign an acknowledgement of risk waiver regarding COVID-19 before returning to campus for voluntary workouts on June 8, athletic director Gene Smith confirmed to ESPN on Sunday.

Friday, June 12: The University of Houston has suspended voluntary workouts after six athletes in various sports tested positive for the coronavirus. Houston is the first school to suspend athletic activity after allowing athletes back on campus.

Virtual SEC media days: The SEC will hold virtual football media days instead of its annual in-person event this year as the sport continues to feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, June 2: Notre Dame football will not open the season against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 29 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the teams will face each other at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, most likely on Labor Day weekend, Notre Dame announced Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, May 27: The Division I Council Coordination Committee once again extended the recruiting dead period in all sports through July 31. The committee had previously extended the dead period, which was instituted due to the coronavirus pandemic, to June 30, but has now further extended it through the end of July.

COVID-19 impact: How do schools plan, test, recruit and stay afloat?


Are conference-only games the right call for the Big Ten?

Frank Isola and Michael Wilbon break down how conference-only games will affect the Big Ten and collegiate athletics as a whole.

Big Ten goes conference only: What it means, what's next and what about Notre Dame? The Big Ten will be going to a conference-only model for all fall sports, which means no Ohio State-Oregon or Michigan-Washington. But what does it mean for the rest of the conferences and Notre Dame? Read

What will the Ivy League's fall sports decision mean for college football? The Ivy League has announced that there will be no fall sports competition this year. Will its decision once again become a trend at the FBS level or will it be an outlier made by a league without the same structures and incentives as big-time college football? Read

How college football is trying to answer its biggest return-to-play questions: How do you keep the players safe? Did schools err in bringing players back? How can there be uniformity in testing or scheduling? What will practice look like in a contact sport? And what do the players think? We talked to athletic directors, coaches, athletes and parents, as well as medical and legal experts, to get a sense of where things stand with the start of the season less than two months away. Read

Inside college football's plan to return from coronavirus lockdown: The NCAA's Division I Council approved a six-week practice plan for college football that begins in July and will transition teams from the current voluntary workouts amid the coronavirus pandemic to the typical mandatory meetings and preseason camps to prepare for the 2020 season. Here's what you need to know. Read

100 days to college football? The biggest questions as the sport looks to return: The college football season is slated to begin in 100 days, highlighted by Notre Dame-Navy in Dublin, Ireland. Here's the latest as the sport's power brokers try to find a way to save the season. Read

No football would cost $4 billion, alter college sports: As more college athletic departments cut sports programs, the financial wreckage is becoming clear. And it gets even worse if college football doesn't return. Read

College recruiting challenges during the coronavirus pandemic: With the state of college football and basketball in limbo, coaches and recruits across the country have had to find new ways to go about age-old practices during the spring. Read

Power 5 conferences: When will sports return?


Harbaugh would rather play with no fans than not play at all

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh discusses protocols the team is taking to protect its players and the possibility of playing football games without fans.

As states begin to initiate phased reopening, schools and athletic programs are also beginning to set new protocols for students and student-athletes. Right now, the college football season is tentatively scheduled to start on Aug. 29; and while there is still no definitive timetable for college sports to return across the board, the May 31 moratorium that was imposed in March at the onset of the pandemic is soon expiring.

Here is a school-by-school breakdown of dates for stages of reopening in each Power 5 conference (*-denotes Notre Dame as independent):


The ACC announced it would leave it up to individual universities to determine when to start opening up campuses and athletic facilities. Here are the dates we know so far:

Boston College: TBD.
Clemson: June 8 (voluntary workouts)
Duke: TBD.
Florida State: TBD.
Georgia Tech: June 15 (voluntary workouts)
Louisville: June 8
Miami: June 15
North Carolina: June 15
NC State: TBD.
Pittsburgh: June 8
Syracuse: June 9
Virginia: July 5
Virginia Tech : TBD.
Wake Forest: TBD.
*-Notre Dame: June 22 (voluntary workouts)

Big Ten

While the Big Ten said it will leave plans up to individual schools, Illinois announced detailed plans for its athletes to return for voluntary activities beginning in mid-June. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told reporters earlier this week that its athletes would begin returning to campus June 8, pending university approval. Here are the latest dates:

Illinois: Mid-June (voluntary on-campus workouts).
Indiana: June 15
Iowa: June 8
Maryland: June 15
Michigan: June 15
Michigan State: TBD.
Minnesota: TBD.
Nebraska: June 1
Northwestern: June 22
Ohio State: June 8 (voluntary on-campus workouts).
Penn State: June 15
Purdue: TBD.
Rutgers: June 15
Wisconsin: June 15

Big 12

The Big 12 announced Friday, May 22, that football players will be allowed to return on June 15 for voluntary on-campus workouts as part of a "phased return" to athletic activities. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott added on Friday that he believes college football will not only be back this fall but also that there will be "some level of fans" at the games.

Baylor: June 15
Iowa State: TBD.
Kansas: TBD.
Kansas State: July 13
Oklahoma: July 1 (voluntary workouts)
Oklahoma State: June 15
TCU: June 15
Texas: June 15
Texas Tech: June 15
West Virginia: June 15


The conference announced on May 26 it will allow voluntary, in-person workouts for all sports to begin on June 15, as long as the local governments and universities allow the student-athletes to return to campus. Earlier this month, the 23-school California State University system announced it would remain in a primarily virtual learning model this fall, raising questions about the ability for member schools to field athletic teams for the rest of 2020. Here are dates for the Pac-12, whose California members are not part of the CSU system:

Arizona: June 15
Arizona State: TBD.
California: June 17
UCLA: June 22
Colorado: June 15
Oregon: June 15
Oregon State: June 15
USC: June 24
Stanford: TBD.
Utah: TBD.
Washington: TBD.
Washington State: TBD.


The conference announced that voluntary, in-person athletics activities may resume on SEC campuses, at the discretion of each university, beginning June 8 under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution:

Alabama: TBD.
Arkansas: TBD.
Auburn: June 8
Florida: TBD.
Georgia: TBD.
Kentucky: June 8
Ole Miss: June 8
Mississippi State: TBD.
Missouri: June 8
South Carolina: June 8
Tennessee: TBD.
Texas A&M: June 9
Vanderbilt: TBD.

College Football Playoff: Will there be one?

CFP officials have said they are moving forward with a plan to still have a playoff as scheduled. Here is the latest news:

Schools that have cut pay, programs, staff


Stanford AD on cuts: 'This has been a heartbreaking day for all of us'

Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir breaks down what went into the difficult decision to cut 11 varsity sports.

A day after the University of Cincinnati announced it would permanently cut its men's soccer program, a letter from five conference commissioners to NCAA president Emmert asked, in part, for the NCAA to lift rules that require Division I schools to sponsor at least 16 varsity sports.

Here are other programs that have disbanded, plus schools that have made staffing changes and pay cuts: