Pac-12 Commissioner: "I Think We're Going To Play Football This Year"

Larry Scott believes college football will occur in 2020 and shared his thoughts on evolving name, image and likeness measures

Tiki and Tierney
May 01, 2020 - 5:11 pm
David Shaw Stanford

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As many sports remain on hold around the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is genuine concern that college football will not happen in 2020. 

Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott, however, is “hopeful” that the season will still occur.

“I think we’re going to play football this year,” Scott said on Tiki & Tierney. “There’s a lot of open questions about when it’s safe to do so, and then fans is a whole other question about that. But I’m an optimist. There’s a lot of work going on – not just within our league, but nationally in college football across all sports. There’s a great spirit of innovation, collaboration and understanding the importance of sport to our society and communities.”

While professional sports leagues can be more creative with logistics – MLB, for example, was toying with the idea of playing its entire season in Arizona – college football, and all college sports, aren’t so lucky.

“That’s not practical or wouldn’t be consistent [with] the values of student-athletes,” Scott said. “We don’t have the same ability – or will, frankly – to have a hermetic seal around the athletes [to] let them compete. I think the feeling is that if student-athletes are going to compete in sport, they’ve got to be back as students on campus, in dorms or apartments, in dining halls [and] have access to the medical staff. As a matter of philosophy and principle, you wouldn’t put student-athletes in harm’s way or at risk if you didn’t get to the point where you’re at least comfortable that some students should come back on campuses.”

Even if student-athletes return to campus, though, they will need time to train, practice and prepare for the season. Without proper conditioning, more student-athletes would incur injuries.

“There’s a lot of science backing that up,” Scott said. “If you’re out of shape and you’re out of training and you don’t give yourself enough time to be ready to play, you’re just going to see more injuries than you used to.”

Scott also addressed evolving measures surrounding name, image and likeness, as the NCAA now supports proposals that would allow college athletes to sign endorsement deals and receive payment for other work. While many fans believe this is long overdue – and while others don’t think it goes far enough – it remains a work in progress.

“We’re heading in a positive direction, but there’s a lot of fundamental differences in college sports and pro sports,” Scott said. “There’s no union, there’s no collective bargaining agreement, there’s no draft – and so, there have had to be a very strict set of rules to kind of level the playing field in terms of how recruiting works and to make sure there’s some competitive balance. . . . So the idea that student-athletes will now be compensated by third parties and that there might be state laws that vary state-by-state that govern what that means and what’s allowed is concerning in terms of ensuring a national approach to recruiting and competition.”

The NCAA will need help ironing out the details.

“We’re proponents of Congress preemptively creating national laws that would govern how this works so young people and their families don’t have to try to figure out what can I do in one state and not in another state,” Scott said. “We [want to] keep the competitive balance and those things that people love about college sports [so that] it doesn’t become more like minor league pro sports.”