The commissioners of the nation’s major college football conferences held a 30-minute conference call Wednesday with Vice President Mike Pence and stressed that college sports cannot return from the coronavirus shutdown until campuses have re-opened.
The 10 commissioners, along with the athletic director of Notre Dame, comprise the College Football Playoff management committee.
“We were able to talk about the differences between us and professional sports,” American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Pence asked good questions and was “hopeful and optimistic” about the fight against the coronavirus. The pandemic has shut down all major sporting events since mid-March and forced colleges to close campuses and move classes online.
The White House has said it is important to re-open the U.S. economy, though the details on how that will happen will be complicated and likely involve local, state and federal guidelines on safety. President Donald Trump has also been engaged with professional sports leagues with the multibillion-dollar sports industry on hold.
The college football season is scheduled to begin Labor Day weekend but many questions remain to be answered.
“(We) made the point we were concerned and wanted to get back to having kids attending college and opening up our colleges and universities,” Bowlsby said. “That until that happened we weren’t going to be having any sports.”
Bowlsby said another call with the vice president was probable in about a month.
College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, who was also on the call, said the semifinals on Jan. 1 in New Orleans and Pasadena, California, and the championship game on Jan. 11 in Miami are still on.
“I was glad to know that the vice president understands how important college football is,” Hancock said.