Report: ACC mulling modified football schedule, delayed start
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (247Sports) - Two weeks after the Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences announced that they would be implementing conference-only schedules for all fall sports in 2020, the Atlantic Coast Conference is reportedly on the brink of being the latest Power 5 conference to make modifications to its fall sports calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Yahoo! Sports' Pete Thamel, a football schedule involving 10 league games and a "plus one" outside the conference for each school has emerged as the "favorite" for the ACC to adopt for 2020. The start of the season would also be delayed for ACC teams, set to take place sometime between Sept. 12 and Sept. 26.
It had been previously reported by CBS Sports that the conference had been considering the format for the 2020 season, which, as it stands, would still allow a number of ACC teams to preserve games with in-state SEC rivals. Such matchups include Florida vs. Florida State and Clemson vs. South Carolina, among others.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement earlier in the month that the conference’s board of directors had expected to make a decision in “late July” regarding a path forward for the return of competition within the conference amid COVID-19 concerns. Swofford, in the statement, said that the conference had prepared for “numerous scenarios” regarding the fall athletics season.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and administrators remain the ACC’s top priority,” Swofford said. “As we continue to work on the best possible path forward for the return of competition, we will do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic missions. Over the last few months, our conference has prepared numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season. The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.”
A concern shared among all Power 5 conference commissioners since the coronavirus pandemic hit stateside was keeping their student-athletes and staffs safe. Part of that was finding a way for universal testing systems and quarantine/isolation protocols. Even with almost-daily meetings among the Power 5 commissioners, no such plan was developed. Part of the issue is, well, there’s no college football czar.
The primary obstacle is a simple matter of geography, resources and math. It's easier to provide ample testing on campuses with medical systems and hospitals already tied to the university than, say, Mississippi State, an agricultural university in a rural community. Commissioners, administrators and even legislators knew months ago it would be difficult.
“That’s going to require a level of collaboration and agreement,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in June. “That is not always so easy in college sports but I think people realize the importance of it and I’m optimistic we’ll get there.”
Should the ACC alter its football schedule for the 2020 season, the Big 12 and SEC would be the two remaining Power 5 conferences yet modify their fall sports schedules amid the pandemic.
Brandon Marcello contributed to this report.
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