In the latest development of how COVID-19 has impacted life for Temple’s student-athletes, more specifically its football program, the American Athletic Conference announced Thursday that it will be testing all football teams 72 hours prior to each game.
The conference is comprised of 12 schools, with only 11 competing in football (excluding Wichita State) and Mike Aresco is its commissioner. Aresco, a University of Connecticut alum, was the final commissioner of the Big East Conference (defunct in the FBS) before holding the inaugural title with the AAC.
In the statement made by the conference, Tresco states the following:
“Our presidents, athletic directors and senior woman administrators continue to monitor the global COVID-19 pandemic and ways in which we can work toward a safe and healthy return to fall competition for our student-athletes, coaches and staff members. The welfare of everyone on our campuses and connected to our events remains our highest priority.”
The conference’s decision to test before each game was made after consulting with their COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group. The protocol is in effect for all of the regular season, prior to the AAC Championship Game on December 5th, and throughout bowl season for all of the qualifying teams. All players, coaches, staff & team personnel are expected to be tested. The statement ends with Tresco expressing that the AAC will be “committed to meeting or exceeding all guidelines recommended by the NCAA.”
This decision was also made in light of the announcements of other NCAA Division I conferences making executive decisions for the 2020 season. The Ivy League commenced these announcements with the cancellation of ALL fall sports for 2020. The first “Big 5” conference, the Big 10, announced they were going to play in a conference only schedule, to limit traveling or to allow for a specific host school/city to host games. The Pac 10 followed by announcing the same for their football season. The other big 5 conferences – the SEC, ACC, and the Big 12 have not made decisions yet.
The AAC, a “Group of 5” conference has not made a decision either, but announcing a testing protocol means they’re leaning towards the latter, and will go ahead with the 2020 season. What would a conference-only regular football season mean for the Owls? Only time will tell, but for context, Temple had a solid 5-3 record in conference play last season. Another question to upheave: what does this mean for the other fall sports and for the future with winter and spring sports? For example, men’s and women’s basketball play twice as many games in the regular season than are played in football. Would they be tested twice as much? Again, time will only tell.
For now, it seems as if we will have Owls football for the 2020 campaign. As long as players & staff are consistently healthy and not at risk, it’s a win-win for the AAC and Temple.
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