Tuesday’s decision by the California State University system to hold mostly online classes this fall could heavily impact Mountain West Conference football.
Three Mountain West schools — Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State — are among the 23 California State institutions that will only open their campus to labs, clinicals and other classes that require in-person learning.
Not having students on campus would seem to put the prospects of those schools hosting football games in doubt. In April, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said he doesn’t expect there to be college athletics if campuses aren’t open and fully functional.
“Unless they are in full mode with dormitories and housing and all the other facilities open, we won’t have college athletics,” Thompson said.
A joint statement released late Tuesday by Thompson and the presidents of Fresno State, San Jose State and San Diego State said no decision has been made on the future of athletics at those schools or the conference.
“Certainly, all conversations are led by academics, as well as public health and safety,” the statement said. “Within that framework, more determinations are necessary. All three institutions will work closely with the Mountain West. No decisions on athletics have been made.”
Boise State has yet to publicly say whether it plans to hold on-campus classes this fall.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said recently that he doesn’t see sports happening at schools only holding online classes. But he said he’d leave the decision up to the individual states, conferences and schools.
College football insider Brett McMurphy reported last week that multiple conference commissioners said they are OK bringing football student-athletes back to campus for a season even if the general student body is attending online classes.
“Going to class in an online sense is satisfactory,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told McMurphy. “There’s room for that to happen. School has to be in session, student-athletes have to be going to class.”
According to McMurphy, five of the 10 conference commissioners have said they likely would play football this fall even if some of the league members were unable to participate.
That could lead to some teams within the same conference playing twice during the season to help them fill a full schedule should other teams not be able to play. Other scenarios have leagues only playing conference games or pushing back the start of the season until later in the fall or even the spring.
Boise State only has one of the three California teams on the schedule this year — and it’s in Boise. San Jose State is slated to play at Albertsons Stadium on Oct. 3. Utah State is scheduled to play San Diego State on Oct. 10 in Logan, Utah, and Fresno State on Nov. 14, also in Logan.