Commissioners of the Power 5 conferences held an emergency meeting on Sunday, as there is growing concern among college athletics officials that the upcoming football season and other fall sports can’t be played because of the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.
No major decisions were made on Sunday night, but multiple sources in several Power 5 conferences have told ESPN the commissioners talked about trying to collaborate if their respective presidents do decide to cancel or postpone fall sports.
Several sources have indicated to ESPN that Big Ten presidents, following a meeting on Saturday, are ready to pull the plug on its fall sports season, and they wanted to gauge if commissioners and university presidents and chancellors from the other Power 5 conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — will fall in line with them.
Sources told ESPN that a vast majority of Big Ten presidents have indicated that they would vote to postpone football season, hopefully to the spring. A Big Ten official confirmed to ESPN that no official vote took place during Saturday’s meeting.
“It doesn’t look good,” one Power 5 athletic director said.
Notre Dame has close ties to the Power 5, deciding to join the ACC in football this year instead of remaining independent due to the challenges of the pandemic. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick verbalized one of the central issues with altering the season.
“My view is if we change course, we better be able to articulate the reason for doing so to our student-athletes,” he told ESPN.
The Mid-American Conference on Saturday became the first FBS league to postpone the fall sports season, including football.
A Group of 5 athletic director told ESPN: “I don’t know why we are trying to push to play in the fall. It’s always made more sense to me to just play in the spring.”
Presidents and chancellors of the Pac-12 universities are scheduled to meet on Tuesday.
The ACC athletic directors will meet Monday morning, a day earlier than usual, as a result of the discussions the Power 5 commissioners had this weekend, a source told ESPN.
“No one has talked about a plan if the season is canceled,” West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, who is the chair of the Football Oversight Committee, told ESPN. “If it’s canceled, we need to be able to give clear direction at that time, as opposed to saying, ‘We don’t know.'”
Several sources have told ESPN over the past 48 hours that the postponement or cancellation of the football season seems inevitable. Many of those sources believed it ultimately will take a Power 5 conference to move things in that direction and that either the Big Ten or Pac-12 would probably be the first league to do it.
“Nobody wanted to be the first to do it,” a Power 5 coach told ESPN, “and now nobody will want to be the last.”
A Power 5 administrator added: “It feels like no one wants to, but it’s reaching the point where someone is going to have to.”
The ACC, Big 12 and SEC have wanted to wait to see what happened after thousands of students returned to their campuses this month, but they might be forced to act if the Big Ten and/or Pac-12 take action this week, the sources said.
ESPN’s Heather Dinich, Adam Rittenberg, Mark Schlabach, Chris Low and Andrea Adelson contributed to this report.