(Shane Lyons interview with Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNews Talkline)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As some conferences drop non-league games and others at the FCS and lower levels announce that football will not be played in the fall, the Big 12, ACC and SEC are moving ahead with plans to play as much of the 2020 season as possible.
College football teams across the country are showing mixed results in positive cases for their student athletes. The University of Notre Dame has administered 356 tests to football athletes and staff, with two positive results.
On Saturday, the WVU Department of Athletics announced that 19 additional football student athletes recently tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the team total to 28.
“It was really after the July 4th holiday, about the same time that Monongalia County had the spike,” WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “We had a spike in the football program as well. From what we can gather going back in the contact tracing, it appears it did not happen in their football facility workouts. Their social activities outside of football is where we believe the positive cases occurred.
While the team entered a new phase of preseason activities on July 13 where the Mountaineers can take part in up to eight hours a week of football-specific activities, no ‘bubble’ exists to monitor the activities of the players when they leave the Milan Puskar Center.
“They have an accountability outside of our facility and what we are doing to try to prevent this. By going into large crowds, by going into facilities on High Street, etc., that can’t happen if we want to play football.
“Understanding the three steps we have to take — the social distancing, the hand washing and the masking, if we do those things, we have a chance to play football come September.”
As of now, the Mountaineers’ regular season schedule lists eleven games. The Big Ten’s recent announcement that they are eliminating non-league contests took WVU’s home game vs. Maryland off the board. If the ACC makes a similar move to the Big Ten, the Mountaineers will not face Florida State in Atlanta in the season opener.
“Everything is on the table as we speak. I am working on that and I am also working within the conference itself. What do we do? Do we go conference-only? Do we stay at twelve? Do we go ten games? There’s a lot of different options out there on the table. Some have thrown out a schedule option with the other two leagues — the ACC and the SEC, assuming we stay at twelve games.”
Lyons is the chairman of the NCAA’s Division I Football Oversight Committee. The NCAA recently released guidance on testing measures in conjunction with NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline.
“We want to be patient looking at this and understanding that a month ago it looked a lot different than it does today. Come August 15th, we are hoping it looks a lot different as well from the number of cases that are positive out there.
“What we tried to come up with is a uniform testing protocol across all conferences, as opposed to the Big 12 doing one thing, the ACC doing something else, etc. I think we feel pretty confident.”