Weber State athletics on Monday hosted the first of several live-stream conversations planned for this week with a conversation between athletic director Tim Crompton, communications director Paul Grua and radio voice Steve Klauke that the department posted to Facebook.
Key in that discussion was the plan for basketball to go forward this winter as schools deal with lost revenue from the cancellation of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the delay of the 2020 football season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Crompton said for now, the day-to-day of the athletic department calendar has just been flipped. Many things done in the spring are being done now, and preparations are being made to put on fall sports in the spring.
“(The athletes) are active, they are doing the things now in preparation for the spring. Not less to do, just different. That’s the plan going forward right now, as far as fall sports being played in the spring,” Crompton said. “Winter sports are on track right now and certainly we anticipate to see some basketball being played.
“(Basketball) is a lot of what we talk about presently right now ... in terms of what that looks like, if the conference season is when we begin playing in January, or if there are nonconference games, how do we do that safely,” Crompton said later. “How do we meet the recommendations of the NCAA and follow our own guidelines. There’s a lot of discussion about it. I think it’s common knowledge that the basketball tournament is something that allows every institution in the country to provide to their department and their student-athletes, so it is a priority for sure.”
As part of the usual basketball calendar, many teams where allowed by local health guidelines, including Weber State, have been participating in limited practice hours with coaches during a period that began in July and goes through this week. The current schedule would have teams reconvene for preseason camp on Sept. 29 with the season beginning Nov. 10. A report from CBS Sports says the NCAA is considering that and three alternatives for the start of the 2020-21 season.
The NCAA’s Division I Council recently approved a limit of 12 practice hours per week for football between Aug. 24 and Oct. 4, allowing coaches to require up to seven hours of strength and conditioning and meetings, and up to five hours of on-field, non-contact activities. What happens after that will be decided in September. The Division I Board of Directors also said it will work toward hosting fall championships in the spring.
What happens when for each sport will likely be decided in increments. Fall sports at Weber State currently postponed to the spring are football, women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and cross country.
“They will all be taking part in their sport in some way. There are some guidelines and some limitations, but it’s different for each sport. We will have our athletes participating in some way as they prepare for their season in the spring,” Crompton said.
Crompton said fall athletes and coaches were disappointed by decisions to postpone their seasons but perhaps weren’t hit as hard as spring teams who had the rug “yanked out from underneath them” in March, since the pandemic and related public health topics are now prevalent in daily life.
“They’re great coaches … great student-athletes, and after the initial announcement they’ve moved past that and are now in the mindset of, ‘what do we need to do to be prepared, what do we need to do to be great academically, what to we need to do to make sure we stay mentally healthy’ — and what do we need to do on our own campus as an athletic department … to be the gold standard, if you will, of what needs to be done on campus and in our community to keep things moving forward,” Crompton said.
He said conversations are ongoing about how to safely stage a shortened football season this spring and then turnaround for a fall 2021 season, and that fans with questions about their season tickets can visit weberstatetickets.com to view an FAQ with their options.
“At some point we’ll get on the other side of it and our fans will be allowed to come back and be in the arena or the stadium or out on the field to watch our student-athletes here at Weber State,” Crompton said.