If there is going to be a football season, Big South Conference commissioner Kyle Kallander said players, teams and fans would have to get used to people testing positive for the coronavirus.
“You are going to have positive cases,” Kallander said via videoconference Tuesday during conference’s virtual media day. “We want to keep transmission to a minimum, but it’s going to be with us, and we have to live in a COVID world.
“We’ll have some games that could be postponed or canceled, but all athletics can’t live in a bubble.”
Kallander said the biggest challenge ahead of the conference will be coronavirus testing, how the schools are logistically able to manage it and how quickly results can be returned. He said the conference is coming up with guidelines to make sure all programs are following the same protocol.
Another issue is scheduling. It is a subject Kallander said would be discussed this week as the conference has to figure out how to replace both Hampton and Monmouth in the conference schedule.
Earlier this month, Hampton made the announcement it would not be competing in fall sports. On Monday, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference — of which Monmouth is member in every sport but football — canceled its fall competitions. With the other sports programs unable to compete, the New Jersey university decided to shelve the football season as well.
“Personally, I was trying to be an optimist,” Monmouth athletic director Marilyn McNeil told the Asbury Park Press. “At some point, we have to learn to live with this because it’s not just going to disappear. But I think that the sports that were the highest risk like football presented some unique challenges.”
Monmouth had already lost five games on its schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic, including the season opener against Rutgers from the Big Ten Conference.
With the loss of a second Big South opponent, Kennesaw State has lost four games — in addition to Point and Alabama State — leaving it with seven on its current schedule.
Kallander said Robert Morris, which is supposed to officially join the Big South in 2021, is a possibility when it comes to trying to fill some spots on the conference schedule. The Colonials are competing as a Football Championship Subdivision independent this year after leaving the Northeast Conference at the end of last year.
“Robert Morris wants to play with us,” Kallander said.
Kallander also said there were conversations with North Carolina A&T, which is also joining the Big South in 2021, after the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference decided to postpone fall sports. However, with the MEAC looking at the possibility for spring football, Kallander said that would not be an option.
As far as moving the Big South to a spring schedule, Kallander said that was a “last resort” option. He also said that while the FCS playoffs were important, if the NCAA Board of Governors votes to postpone all the fall NCAA championships, it might make the rest of the FCS conferences begin to consider moving their schedules to early 2021.