The NCAA hadn’t shown much of an inclination or ability to protect college football players during the pandemic. On Wednesday, that changed.
Via multiple reports, the NCAA has issued several proclamations aimed at the overall welfare of college football players. Most notably, those who opt out for the 2020 season will retain their scholarships. Also, schools may not require athletes to sign COVID-19 waivers.
The NCAA likewise has established a hotline allowing “athletes, parents or others” to report COVID-19 violations. This gives players a way to make the NCAA aware of unacceptable behavior by coaches who may be inclined to bully and/or to retaliate those who would dare to complain.
“We have very serious concerns about the continuing high levels of COVID-19 infection in many parts of our nation,” the NCAA explained in a three-page document to its member institutions.
The NCAA may still cancel fall championships, which would put pressure on conferences and member schools to abandon college football season. For Division I, the decision will be made no later than August 21.
For college football, the challenge of playing a full season remains daunting, especially given the reality that many of the players simply can’t be trusted to behave like anything other than the 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds that they are when away from the facility.