USC recommends online classes, no campus residence

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The viability of pro and college football continues to remain in question for 2020, but more and more pieces of evidence are emerging that will make it harder for one or both forms of the sport to proceed prior to the development and dissemination of a vaccine.

The University of Southern California has taken a step toward potentially abandoning the 2020 football season based on a new set of recommendations to its undergraduate classes for the upcoming semester. In a letter dated July 1, USC has recommended all undergraduates to take their courses online and to reconsider living on or close to campus.

But here’s the sentence that keeps the door open, for now, to football: “We are continuing with limited in-person, on-campus activity because we believe we can keep students, researchers, staff, and faculty safe with our low-density plan.”

It became apparent early in the pandemic that there can’t be college football without college. But the definition of college is broad and malleable. Arguably, “limited in-person, on-campus activity because we believe we can keep students, researchers, staff, and faculty safe with our low-density plan” constitutes enough college to permit college football.

The letter also notes that Los Angeles County has yet to approve the plan for “limited in-person, on-campus activity.” If it’s not approved, football may necessarily be scrapped.

Meanwhile, young, unpaid athletes will watch and wait and work out and potentially help the school generate millions while absorbing the risk of contracting and spreading the virus (along with the usual risks of playing football), with the NCAA disengaged from the process of creating rules that would apply to USC and other schools and with no protections of any kind — unless and until one of them (or their parents) hire a lawyer and ask a judge to give the players what neither the school nor its governing body will.