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College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, ex-West Virginia coach Bill Stewart dies of a heart attack at 59

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on May 21, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Mississippi State announces four-year extension for Joe Moorhead
THE SYNOPSIS: Less than eight months later, Moorhead was fired by the Bulldogs.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Jim Harbaugh says Michigan is going on safari in South Africa next spring
THE SYNOPSIS:  On an unrelated note, Ohio State has won The Game 15 of the last 16 times its been played.  Michigan’s last win came in 2011.  The season between Jim Tressel’s resignation and Urban Meyer‘s hiring.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Alabama legend Derrick Thomas finally a College Football Hall of Famer
THE SYNOPSIS: As was the case with Tommie Frazier and Deion Sanders, this inexplicable snub was finally (unofficially) rectified.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Detroit Lions reportedly ready to create bowl game
THE SYNOPSIS: The game that would become the Quick Lane Bowl was officially announced two months later.  The main conference tie-in is the ACC and Big Ten.  The MAC serves a secondary tie-in.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Former WVU coach Bill Stewart dead of apparent heart attack
THE SYNOPSIS: The Grafton, WV, native spent 11 seasons as a coach at WVU.  From 2008-10, Stewart served as the head coach of the Mountaineers.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Cross Cleveland off list of possible Big Ten title game sites
THE SYNOPSIS: Indianapolis has hosted every B1G title game since it debuted in 2011.

NCAA tables one-time transfer proposal to early next year

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Rightly so, the NCAA as castigated and publicly pilloried for some of its decisions.  This time, though, they got it right.  For now.

Many, us included, criticized the NCAA back in April when its Board of Directors and its Presidential Forum recommended to the Division I Council that the proposal on a one-time transfer waiver is “not appropriate at this time.” Wednesday, the Council did the expected and tabled the proposal until January of next year.

From the NCAA’s release:

The resolution was recommended by the Transfer Waiver Working Group, which earlier this year had proposed a change to waiver guidelines that would have accomplished the same goal but through the waiver process instead of through a legislative change. Last month, the Division I Board of Directors indicated it preferred a legislative change and lifted the moratorium it had placed on transfer eligibility proposals last fall.

“The transfer environment has long been an issue of much discussion in Division I. The Division I Council is committed to a uniform and equitable approach to transfer rules that considers student-athlete well- being and the opportunities available after transfer,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We will not simply change the rule, but we will consider a comprehensive package designed to address the multiple complexities involved.”

The Council committed to work with conferences, schools, the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the Division I Committee on Academics and other committees to form a permanent legislative solution

Currently, Division I rules permit student-athletes in all sports except baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, football and men’s ice hockey to immediately compete after a first transfer. Reliance on the waiver process for student-athletes in those five sports has put enormous strain on a historically collaborative process built to handle extenuating circumstances.

The resolution called the waiver process “an unsustainable method to achieve lasting stability, consistency and transparency within the transfer environment” and declared it was “never designed to accommodate sustained requests for relief from a rule without actually changing the rule.

The comprehensive package will address issues that impact transfer, including academic requirements, roster management considerations, transfer notification dates, accountability measures for schools that accept transfer students, and additional education on the transfer rules and process. The Committee on Academics will provide its guidance to any academic aspects of the package.

Given the uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic has caused across all sports, pushing this legislation back a few months is a very prudent move.  Instantly granting thousands of football players — not to mention basketball players as well — a one-time free transfer pass at this time, while athletic departments are already stretched attempting to safely get their student-athletes back on the field, would’ve done exponentially more harm than good.

It’s expected that the legislation will be adopted at the NCAA convention in January, and will go into effect for the 2021-22 academic year.

NCAA to allow football programs to bring players back to campus starting June 1 for voluntary workouts

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With each passing day, it’s looking more and more likely there’ll be a college football season.  At least, there will be one in some form or fashion.

Wednesday, the NCAA confirmed that some sports will be permitted to resume voluntary on-campus activities beginning June 1.  Included in that limited group (for now) are college football players.  Men’s and women’s basketball are permitted a limited resumption as well.

The NCAA made sure to stress that the on-campus activities are voluntary.Voluntary on-campus athletics activity must be initiated by the student-athlete. Coaches may not be present unless a sport-specific safety exception allows it, and activity cannot be directed by a coach or reported back to a coach.

“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” said Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”

With the NCAA’s announcement, it will be up to each individual conference — and each individual institution — to reopen the doors for college football players to return to campus.  In accordance with local and state guidelines, obviously.

It’s already been confirmed that the SEC will vote this Friday on whether to bring student-athletes, including college football players, back to campus June 1 or June 15.  Of the 14 athletic directors in the conference, just one, Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer, is not in favor of the June 1 date for a return.  The Big Ten is also expected to allow players back to campus early this month, with schools such as Ohio State targeting June 8.

The Big 12, meanwhile, is eyeing a mid- to late-June return date for student-athletes.  The Pac-12 will make a determination next week.  The ACC is expected to do the same.

Exactly when these various conferences can start actual practices for the start of the 2020 college football remains to be seen.

In addition to the resumption of on-campus workouts, the NCAA also announced a handful of waivers have been granted.  Those related to the highest level of football includes:

  • Waiving the minimum football attendance requirement for Football Bowl Subdivision members for two years.
  • Financial aid minimums for FBS schools were waived to permit an institution to award at least 75% of the maximum FBS financial aid limit for three years. In addition, institutions will be permitted to award a minimum of 150 athletics grants-in-aid or expend a minimum of $3 million on grants-in-aid to student-athletes for a period of three years. Gender equity requirements and rules governing nonrenewal/cancellation of aid remain in effect.
  • FBS schools will not be required to play 60% of their games against FBS members or play five home games against FBS opponents.

The latter waiver is nearly as important as the resumption of on-campus workouts. The easing of those restrictions will allow athletic directors across the country the flexibility to get in a full slate of games — or as close to a full slate of games — as we continue to weave our way through the coronavirus pandemic.

MAC football to implement coronavirus pandemic-induced cost-saving measures

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Like many coaches across the country, MAC football is set to feel a financial pinch brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Toledo Blade was the first to report that the MAC will implement league-wide cost-saving measures for its football programs.  The moves will be in effect for the 2020 college football season.  According to the newspaper, those measures include:

  • End the practice of MAC home teams staying in hotels the night before football games.
  • Reduce the travel rosters for road games from the current 76 to 70.

Those are a couple of the handful of cost-saving moves the conference and its members have made of late.

It had previously been confirmed that Akron was eliminating men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis.  Just Friday, Bowling Green announced it was eliminating its baseball program, effective immediately.

Additionally, the MAC announced Tuesday it would be ending postseason tournaments for eight non-revenue sports beginning with the 2020-21 school year.  Those changes will last at least five years.

There will be no MAC tournament for men’s or women’s soccer, baseball, softball, men’s or women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse, and women’s field hockey. The recipient of the conference’s NCAA tournament bid in those eight sports will be determined by the regular season.

Thus far, two MAC schools have implemented pay cuts for their head football coaches.  Those are Northern Illinois (HERE) and Western Michigan (HERE).  Those aren’t expected to be the last.

NCAA extends recruiting dead period through June 30, will review that timeline on May 27

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Not surprisingly, the NCAA has reset its recruiting trail policies.

As the coronavirus pandemic effectively shuttered the sports world, the NCAA announced in mid-March that it was putting a halt to all in-person recruiting until at least April 15.  Last month, that dead period was extended through May 31.  Earlier this month, the NCAA stated it’d revisit that May 31 date on the 13th of this month.

Today is ***checks watch*** May 13.  In that vein, the NCAA confirmed that it has extended the recruiting dead period through June 30.  The Association did, though, state that it will review that date May 27.  At that time, they could extend the in-person ban out even further.

“The dead period began in March to protect the health, safety and well-being of prospective student-athletes and their families, as well as coaches,” the organization earlier this month. “NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline addressed the group and discussed the resocialization of sports guidelines released last week to help guide their decision-making.”

The guidelines mentioned above included the NCAA’s nine core principles for the eventual return of college sports.

The NCAA also issued additional guidelines related to recruiting:

The committee also granted waivers of recruiting rules effective May 11 to make them more flexible during the dead period the group imposed, which currently lasts through May 31. For example, any school staff member may participate on recruiting calls between a countable coach and a recruit. In normal circumstances, only coaches, and a few others in limited situations, may communicate with uncommitted prospective student-athletes via telephone or video calls.

The committee also lifted the restriction on the number of uncommitted prospective student-athletes (and their family members) who may participate in a recruiting call with a countable coach.

Additionally, current student-athletes may now participate in recruiting calls with coaches, as long as that time counts against the eight hours of countable athletics related activity that the committee permitted in all sports earlier this spring.

Finally, committed prospective student-athletes may participate in virtual team activities after completion of all academic requirements for high school graduation or transfer to a Division I school. Uncommitted prospects could on one occasion observe such activities but not participate.