CINCINNATI (FOX19) - There has been a major shift in tone across the college football landscape in recent days, replacing some lingering doubt from weeks ago with a plan to play this fall.
On a Wednesday zoom call with FOX19 NOW, University of Cincinnati Athletic Director John Cunningham said conversations with the American Athletic Conference have been focused on playing games.
“We all believe we’re going to play football,” said Cunningham. “We’re planning to play football. We think that’s going to happen.
"The virus is going to dictate the timeline in which we can get our football team on campus and back practicing. We’re going to follow the rules and be in communication with other schools and states and officials, but we know how important it is to play football in the fall and we believe that’s going to happen.”
Cunningham told FOX19 NOW that discussions with the AAC have not included scenarios if students aren’t physically on campus in the fall or if certain schools in the conference are unable to participate this season - yet.
“Normally there’s an agreed upon start date for every sport, every season,” NCAA President Mark Emmert recently told ESPN. "Under these circumstances, now that’s all been derailed by the pandemic.
"It won’t be the conferences that can do that, either. It will be the local and state health officials that say whether or not you can open and play football with fans.”
UC and the AAC are currently monitoring Major League Baseball and several other leagues around the world to see how they deal with certain issues that could arise with fans. They’re also learning how to properly respond if a player or staff member contracts the virus.
“What does happen if you have someone test positive for the virus, a player or someone associated with the team, we’re watching that closely and what are the protocols if that happens," said Cunningham.
“We feel like we’ll be living with this virus at least through the fall. We want to understand how we take care of the health and safety of everyone around the program. If you’re trying to keep social distancing with fans in the stadium, what does that look like? What do concessions look like? We’ve got a plan for a lot of scenarios - one of them is having fans back and how do we take care of them once they come back.”
UC’s plan to have fans also includes a way to honor first responders with the Strength in Unity ticket donation program.
For every $100 donated, UC Athletics will donate a season ticket to a local first responder to attend football games this fall. Donors will receive three UCATS Red Priority Points for each Strength in Unity ticket they purchase.
UC previously announced an adjustment to season-ticket deadlines for 2020 tickets due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health threat.
The UC Athletics Ticket Office has taken the following steps regarding 2020 football season tickets:
- Previously extended the season ticket renewal deadline until Friday, May 8, 2020.
- The season-ticket upgrade and seat selection process for new patrons who have placed a previous deposit is slated to begin Monday, May 18.
- Public season ticket on-sale will commence on Monday, June 8.
- Altered the billing plan installment dates from Friday, May 1/Monday, June 1 to Monday, June 1/Wednesday, July 1.
Over the past few weeks, we have continued to see COVID-19 impact many in our Bearcats community and we are pleased to announce temporary changes to give fans as much flexibility as possible as we continue through this pandemic.
- Fans who were unable to renew by Friday, May 8 who would still like to maintain their seats for the 2020 season should contact the athletics ticket office and their seats will be put on hold until early August to allow renewal at their convenience.