Jul 30, 2020 - Sports

Fall college sports face a great unknown

An illustration of a hand erasing sports plays on a chalk board

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As colleges continue making decisions regarding both academics and athletics for the fall semester, the coronavirus continues to show it's far from run its course.

Driving the news: The New York Times released results of a nationwide survey yesterday, linking at least 6,300 coronavirus cases to roughly 270 colleges.

  • And while some schools have moved classes online and others have canceled fall sports, many "still plan to welcome freshmen to campus in the coming days, to hold in-person classes and to host sporting events."

The big picture: In just the past day, the Big West postponed fall sports, Penn State reported eight positives among student-athletes, the ACC set an 11-game schedule and the 15-player outbreak among the Rutgers football team was linked to an on-campus party.

  • The ESPN site dedicated to these updates reads like a window into the mind of a reckless individual, but it's just what happens when institutions are faced with unprecedented circumstances and no easy answers.

Between the lines: Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, a projected first round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, has opted out of the 2020 season "due to uncertain health conditions and regulations."

  • Ultimately, more top prospects will likely follow suit, and a pertinent question might be how many more it will take before those decisions force schools' hands, instead of the other way around.

The bottom line: We've already seen how effective bubbles can be and how quickly things can go sideways in the absence of one. But since colleges will never have the luxury of even considering a bubble, it begs the question of just how long this house of cards can last before toppling.

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