West Virginia University president Gordon Gee seems very confident about the 2020 college football season happening in some form or fashion.
Gee joked in an interview with WOWK TV in Charleston that football would happen in the fall even if he has to suit up. Gee is 76.
“We are going to play football in the fall. I really do believe that,” Gee said in the interview. “Even if I have to suit up. I’ve got my ankles taped. I’m ready to go in.”
He then got serious about the topic.
“Again, I think with everything, we’re going to do it based on what’s safe, what is healthy for our fans, what is healthy for our student-athletes, but I do believe we’ll play football. And by the way, I’ll just say it from another point of view I think that this country needs to move from being shut down to having an ability to get back into hope and opportunity and certainly athletics provides great hope and great synergy to people.”
After noticing how his comments got wide attention across social media Thursday afternoon, Gee kept the joke going. It is fun to have something dumb to laugh about in times like these.
We all want to see football back this fall, but only if it can be done safely. The health of our student-athletes, our staff and our fans must be our top priority in any plan to return to the field. Until then, I will be practicing my stiff arm at home! pic.twitter.com/Kw2kMhbOeE— E. Gordon Gee (@gordongee) May 14, 2020
Gee’s (serious) comments to WOWK echo what he told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel last week.
“The mental health of the nation needs to be served also,” he told Yahoo Sports. “There’s a battle going on between science, politics and common senses. Up to this point, science has won and rightly so. We need to start finding the middle ground and manage those middle grounds.”
He also noted to Thamel what’s obvious for many schools across the country as they try to figure out how and when football will be played in the fall. Football is the sport that produces the most revenue for schools and helps subsidize other athletic programs. With a reduced payout to schools from the canceled NCAA tournaments in March, schools need the revenue that football brings in to help their budgets.
Earlier Thursday, Akron announced that it was cutting three sports. Dozens and dozens of coaches across the college sports landscape have taken pay cuts. And that’s all with the expectation that football will happen in some way. If it doesn’t, college athletic departments are going to be in for a huge financial nightmare.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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