Football and other fall sports plan to continue, with or without fans

Students participate in the O-S-U chant in the student section in Reser Stadium for OSU Football’s senior night versus Arizona State on Nov. 16, 2019. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown unveiled her plans for reopening the state last Thursday, and while large scale events are not expected to return until at least through September, Oregon State’s fall sports are still expected to continue.

OSU athletic director Scott Barnes addressed the university’s plans during a conference call with members of the media Thursday afternoon. 

“We’re all modeling various scenarios because the times are so uncertain,” Barnes said. “We’re certainly respectful of the governor’s commitment to the health of Oregonians and in alignment with our commitment to the health of our student-athletes, fans, and our local community. Certainly not playing football in September has a significant impact.”

While Athletics has a variety of options to review, canceling fall sports is not being considered.

“We have every potential option on the table except that,” Barnes said. “We do not have cutting a sport on the table as an option.”

Although Gov. Brown’s plans state that events such as concerts, festivals and conventions will not be able to return until a reliable treatment of vaccination is introduced, she did specifically state that sporting events would not be able to continue with audiences, meaning that there may still be football at Reser Stadium this fall. 

“We are communicating with the governor’s office and we will again here in the next week and a half, or so,” Barnes said. “Are we going to have a full season? Are we going to have a partial season? Are we going to play with fans or not? All of those things are on the table.”

In addition to coordinating with the governor’s office for fall sports to go on as planned, there will need to be cooperation between all NCAA programs. While other states may have looser restrictions than Oregon, Barnes said that he does not believe that certain programs will be allowed to start training and/or gameplay before competitors.

“I’m not worried because college sports is a national enterprise and the A-5 commissioners are meeting daily,” Barnes said. “We can’t move forward with a national football schedule without alignment and coordination. The continued communication between the commissioners leads me to believe that the competition aspect, even the training camp aspect from the competitive equity standpoint, needs to be nationally coordinated.”

Also in regard to training, Barnes said that one of his biggest priorities is to ensure that athletes will be able to train in a safe environment. 

“I would rather put my student-athletes in a position to open the facilities in a controlled environment that is controlled by us than have them at a local fitness center where it is not controlled,” Barnes said. “You have to separate the notion from opening voluntary self-directed workouts with a trainer to having a full-on training camp environment and playing. Those are the high-level equity scenarios that need coordination.”

As of now, Oregon State football’s home opener is still scheduled for Sept. 12 versus Colorado State. 

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