As the spread of the new coronavirus continues to sweep the globe, and as the sports world came to a screeching halt, there has been a growing fear among coaches that there will not be a 2020 college football season, UNC’s Mack Brown said in a teleconference Monday.
College campuses across the country, including at UNC-Chapel Hill, have moved classes online and asked students to move off-campus. And athletic activities have been suspended through at least the end of the spring season. That included spring football practices and the NCAA tournament, which had been played every year since 1939.
Brown said he and his staff are all working from home — some scattered across the country. They are having to conduct meetings through the video-conferencing app called Zoom.
“Coaches really have no clue,” Brown said of the 2020 season. “There is a fear of ‘would we have a season?’ ‘Would we have a partial season?’ ‘What does a partial season mean?’ There is a great concern because of the remedy that comes in with football.”
For many schools across the country, including UNC, football and basketball generate the most revenue and help fund other athletic programs that do not make money. Brown said he wonders what that means for schools moving forward, adding that he wasn’t aware of discussions among NCAA officials about the upcoming season.
According to the CDC, there were more than 33,000 identified cases of coronavirus in the United States, as of early Monday afternoon. There are more than 300 cases in North Carolina.
Monday, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper banned the gathering of 50 or more people and shut down K-12 school buildings until May 15.
“We’re all having to find a new normal and start over,” Brown said. “To not be able to be around our players and coaches, it has changed our lives.”
Brown said all of his players and staff are healthy, as far as he knows.
He said the athletic administration has made sure that all of his players have a place to stay while schools are closed. Some have gone home to be with their parents and family members. Some are staying at off-campus apartments in Chapel Hill.
He said he’s told his staff to not expect to return until at least April 5. Brown, who has been isolating at his home in Chapel Hill, said right now they are just prioritizing their families, health and players.
He said the only thing he can relate this situation to is Sept. 11, 2001.
“It changed the way we do things, it changed our lives,” Brown said of 9/11. “But we knew there was an end at a certain point.
“The biggest problem is you’re not sure when it ends, and we can’t get those answers at this point.”
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