Athletic director at the University of Maryland Damon Evans said Wednesday that he is "cautiously optimistic" that the college soccer and other sports will be played in the fall, but they emphasized that there were few concrete responses at that time and the coronavirus pandemic could mean that things will not return to "normal" for a long time.
"At the end of the day, the determination to play sports in the fall or not, in particular soccer, will depend on what our state and local governments, our university system and the University of Maryland allow us to do, " Evans said in a virtual panel conducted by the Maryland Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.
He also admitted that there may be some disadvantage that some sports programs in parts of the country where the coronavirus appears less of a threat to return to practice before others in the hardest hit areas.
For example, the president of the University of Iowa, Bruce Harreld, recently said that soccer program intends to start practicing on June 1; the Big Ten and other Power 5 conferences currently have a moratorium on all organized team activities until May 31. Iowa can start practicing before Maryland and many other conference teams can.
"Each state, each municipality, each location is at a different time with regard to the virus" Evans said. "And preventing people from being able to move on just didn't seem realistic because we know that not everyone is going to open at the same time. So there will be a little bit of inequality out there, but we just made the decision that we are going to allow – probably after 1st June or May 31 – allow institutions to advance in some way or fashion ”.
The sporting director also said that the programs could be financially damaged if safety guidelines do not allow fans to participate in the games, as ticket revenue and part of the advertising money would run out.
"I think everyone needs to be prepared so that what looked like before can be very different as we go," he said.
The Maryland athletics department has a "return to work" and "return to game" task force to keep the program in place to accelerate back when sport competition can return.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said recently that he does not believe the sport can start in schools that only take classes online in the semester of 2020. The California State University system, which includes Division I-FBS San Jose programs State, San Diego State and Fresno State, will likely only offer online classes in the fall.
Emmert also said that he will not set a national start date for the soccer season that some Western schools proposed in the interest of not letting some teams gain a competitive advantage from more practice time.