The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect almost every walk of life, and that certainly includes college athletics.
“It’s still chaos. Every day things change,” said WVU director of athletic Shane Lyons.
“We had the president’s call recently in which it was decided to continue playing football,” explained Lyons. “We also added additional testing as part of our safety protocol. We went from one test to three tests per week.”
Each college football program that is still trying to play this fall was left to determine how many fans would be allowed into its stadium for home games. While most in the Big 12 are permitting 25 percent of their normal capacity, WVU announced last week that no members of the general public were going to be able to attend the Sept. 12 home opener against Eastern Kentucky. West Virginia hopes to be able to open its gates to some fans for the second home game, which is Oct. 3 against Baylor.
Shortly after the Mountaineers announced that no spectators will allowed for their football opener, the NCAA came out with significant news, passing a rule allowing all Division I fall sports student-athletes an additional year of eligibility.
In today’s world, though, drastic change seems to be almost a daily event.
As soon as one decision is made, it’s time to move on to another set of problems.
“It’s ever evolving,” admitted Lyons in an interview last week on the MetroNews Statewide Sportsline. “Now right around the corner is basketball. What does basketball look like? It’s an indoor sport. Are we going to start in November? There is already talk by some of conference-only schedules. There is also talk about bubble play.”
Football’s regular season hasn’t even started yet, and certainly that’s a major focus for Lyons. But basketball season typically begins in early November, which is less than three months away.
In all, 12 of West Virginia’s 17 varsity sports normally start their main regular seasons before Thanksgiving arrives, and most of the other five (baseball, golf, gymnastics, tennis and track & field) also have various competitions in during the fall semester, even if the main portion of their regular seasons start after the first of the year.
“Unfortunately there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There are a lot of decisions still to be made for athletic purposes,” said Lyons. “A lot of times I have a lot of balls in the air, though I’m fortunate to have a great staff that can help me take care of things I may not be able to do because I’m also involved in these national committees.
“The pandemic is still here, and it’s not going away. We just have to figure out what these next few months are going to look like.”