Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) and tight end C'yontai Lewis (80) lead their fans as the team celebrates a 13-6 win over Mississippi State in an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

How Will College Football Return Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic?

2020 College Football Season

Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, questions circle around the return of sports, particularly college football. As fall approaches, the NCAA faces the challenge of getting through an entire season of college football. As it appears now, the likelihood of the season starting on time is questionable as social distancing orders remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the return of college athletics relies heavily on the reopening of college campuses.

Alternative Options

Fortunately, the NCAA has several alternative options for getting in the 2020 season. These options include the following; a fall season without fans, a shortened season holding primarily conference games, or a delayed season which could begin as late as the spring of 2021. An interrupted season is also a possibility in the event that a second wave of the virus strikes.

Possible Scenarios

As various states begin to loosen its restrictions, some schools will likely return to practice earlier than others. If this happens, ESPN’s Laura Rutledge believes conferences that will return to football “at the mercy of [their] slowest state.”

For both the SEC and the Big Ten, this would require the permission of 11 different states. For the ACC, this would require permission from nine different states including the hardest struck state thus far, New York.

The scenario in which no fans would be allowed to attend games would certainly be a different one. Rutledge said it would be “devastating for college football to try to play a season without fans” not only because it would eliminate the atmosphere of games, but more importantly because the sport needs “the fan revenue…more than any other sport does.”


Ultimately, conferences will reassess at the end of April and later in early June to determine the fate of the upcoming college football season. Rutledge says they’ll decide whether it is “feasible to get these athletic players back on campus by July” in order to have adequate time to prepare for an on-time start to the season.

About Griffin Foll

Hi, my name is Griffin Foll and I am currently a senior at UF studying journalism with a focus on sports and media and an outside concentration in political science. In addition to covering the 2023 UF men's and women's golf beats, I contribute weekly web and radio content for WRUF ESPN Gainesville. Be sure to check out some of my recent articles!

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