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California Universities Plan for Fall Classes Online, Suspend NCAA D-2 Sports

South Dakota’s six public universities, which serve over 34,000 students, are committed to holding classes in person this fall. California’s two main public university systems, which include 33 campuses serving over 770,000 students, will likely do most fall classes online:

The California State University system, which claims to be the nation’s biggest four-year university system, plans to cancel nearly all in-person classes through the fall semester to reduce spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Timothy White said Tuesday at a board of trustees meeting.

At the University of California, which has 10 campuses across the state, “it’s likely none of our campuses will fully re-open in fall,” Stett Holbrook, a spokesperson for UC, told CNN in an email [Theresa Waldrop, Jon Passantino, and Sarah Moon, “California’s Main Universities Not Likely to Return to Campus This Fall,” CNN, 2020.05.12].

California’s higher ed leaders are looking past coronavirus peak #1 to peak #2 and peak #3:

“The nonpartisan academic researchers and medical and public health experts forecast a second smaller wave later in summer, followed by a very significant wave coupled with influenza forecast for late fall, and another wave in the first quarter of 2021,” [CSU system Chancellor Timothy] White told the board. “Experts also point out that immunity in the population is now approaching the 2 to 3% range, and needs to be in the 60 to 80% percent range to begin to achieve the so-called ‘herd immunity.’ That won’t happen in the next 18 months, and there’s no vaccine yet. And while hope springs eternal, it is unlikely that one will become widely available during the coming academic year” [“Cal State Campuses to Stick with Online Classes During Fall Term,” City News Service via Long Beach Post, 2020.05.12].

The bigger California schools haven’t made a decision on what staying online means for fall sports, but they and NCAA are saying that safety and academics come first:

“The NCAA at large is in that early conversation about how do we safely go about bringing student-athletes back into their sports,” White said. “And just a few days ago Mark Emmert, who is the president of the NCAA, made the case, which I agree with, that it’s not going to be possible to bring student-athletes and coaching staff back to a campus before we actually bring back faculty and students and the academic enterprise.”

Emmert’s comments came during an interview on the NCAA’s Twitter account Friday.

“All of the commissioners and every president that I’ve talked to is in clear agreement: If you don’t have students on campus, you don’t have student-athletes on campus,” he said. “That doesn’t mean [the school] has to be up and running in the full normal model, but you have to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students. … If a school doesn’t reopen, then they’re not going to be playing sports. It’s really that simple” [Kyle Bonagura, “California State University System to Stay Online, Leaving Fall Sports in Air,” ESPN, 2020.05.12].

However, the twelve CSU schools playing Division II sports announced after their chancellor’s statement that they are suspending their fall sports:

Based on Chancellor White’s May 12th announcement that the vast majority of CSU courses will be virtual for the fall semester of the 2020-21 academic year, and with utmost consideration for the health and welfare of our students, coaches, staff, faculty and communities, CCAA member institutions have determined that NCAA sport competition will not occur during the fall of 2020. The CCAA member institutions will continue to advocate strongly to maintain NCAA championship opportunities for all of our student-athletes, including our fall sports, during the 2020-21 academic year and recommend competition resume when it is safe and appropriate to do so for all of its members. Additional information regarding plans for athletics in fall and spring will be communicated as soon as it becomes available [California Collegiate Athletic Association, statement, 2020.05.12].

These decisions by California’s public universities and their D-II sports programs will help pause coronavirus in the fall. It could also put a pause on sports at other schools that are more optimistic about their fall prospects. After all, it’s going to be hard to pack your stadium with players and fans if big schools like California’s don’t want to come play.


  1. DaveFN 2020-05-13 07:00

    The SDBOR will likely come around but as governor appointees not until they have dug in their heels to first make a statement.

  2. Debbo 2020-05-13 15:33

    Axios has a post on this:

    “By the numbers, from the May 8-10 poll of 835 college students, with a margin of error of ±3.4 percentage points:

    65% say they would attend in-person classes.
    31% say they would only attend virtually.
    4% say they would withdraw from school.

  3. Debbo 2020-05-13 20:43

    “you have to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students.”

    This is a fairly new take and likely related to the recent decision to allow athletes to receive $ paid for their likenesses. It wasn’t long ago at all that sportsters, especially in football and boys basketball, were merely meat in the economic machine. It’s so nice that the tables have turned. They deserve to be treated respectfully and safely.

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