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3 takeaways from John Wildhack’s Zoom press conference

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 23, 2020 at 5:03 pm Contact Danny: [email protected] | @DannyEmerman On Thursday, Syracuse University’s Director of Athletics John Wildhack addressed the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on Syracuse sports. Though Wildhack hesitated to speculate on uncertain matters, his overall message is that SU Athletics’ primary goal is to “control the controllable.” In fact, he reiterated that exact message three times in 40 minutes.That objective, as of now, entails sending weekly updates to athletes and their parents, allowing coaches to communicate with their players as much as possible, and encouraging everyone to follow social distancing and other public health guidelines.“We all want to get back on campus as quickly as we can,” Wildhack said. Here are three takeaways from Wildhack’s Zoom press conference.UntestedAdvertisementThis is placeholder textWildhack said that the health and safety of everyone involved with athletics is the main concern. However, he dodged a question about whether any players, coaches or staff members — specifically those returning from the canceled ACC tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina — have either been tested or tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, Wildhack said “right now, knock on wood, we’re healthy.” He also stressed the importance of following social distancing protocols.When pressed further, Wildhack said “Thank goodness, we’re in great shape. We’re in great shape.”Fate of the football seasonThere have been no discussions about canceling the season, Wildhack said. Fans everywhere can take a collective sigh of relief. As of now, there will be a football season, though Wildhack doesn’t know when it will start. Important factors surrounding resuming football in the fall include improved capabilities in testing, and how long of a “lead up time” players need to get physically ready for the season. Based on conversations with coaches and medical personnel, Wildhack said six weeks is likely needed for football players.It’s notable that Syracuse has already moved on-campus summer classes online, so it’s unlikely that summer training camp starts on time. Wildhack did say it’s likely they’ll have a better sense of the situation by late June.Reports are beginning to come out that many within college football believe the best option is to start the season in early 2021. With that, concerns would include how a delayed season might condense the 2021 offseason and impact the subsequent regular season. Regardless of when the season begins, Wildhack said SU is working to provide more flexible options for fans interested in buying tickets. The university will also “place a premium” on mobile ticketing, Wildhack added.Meanwhile, Syracuse football coaches and trainers have been in consistent contact with athletes during the quarantine.“We’re trying to simulate as normal an environment as we possibly can, knowing we can’t replicate it 100%,” Wildhack said.Financial fallout from COVID-19As much as any school across the country, Wildhack said Syracuse is going to feel the impact of the NCAA Tournament getting canceled. The NCAA announced its 2020 revenue will be $225 million because of the lost tournament, compared to the expected $600 million that typically gets distributed to schools. Meanwhile, the athletic department saved some money from the cancellation of non-revenue generating spring sports, Wildhack said, and has begun cost-saving measures with temporary pay cuts.“Our staff has been very diligent about trying to manage our expenses. At the same time, as you look to next year, you’ve got to build a variety of budget contingencies.”Notably, Wildhack said he’s had “no discussions” exploring the possibility of cutting sports programs entirely. All cost-saving measures are “designed that the impact on our staff is as limited as absolutely possible,” Wildhack said. Commentslast_img read more