ACC still optimistic football, other fall sports can play

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- So far, the ACC is plowing optimistically forward with plans for a fall sports season. Or at least, it is not yet willing to pull the plug. The league released a statement just before 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The conference said it would continue to make decisions based on medical advice, but it was pleased with the processes currently in place to protect student athletes, team staff and fans.

"The ACC will continue to make decisions based on medical advice, inclusive of our Medical Advisory Group, local and state health guidelines, and do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities' academic missions. The safety of our students, staff and overall campus communities will always be our top priority, and we are pleased with the protocols being administrated on our 15 campuses. We will continue to follow our process that has been in place for months and has served us well. We understand the need to stay flexible and be prepared to adjust as medical information and the landscape evolves."

On that front, it was noteworthy Tuesday that the chair of the ACC's Medical Advisory Board, Dr. Cameron Wolfe at Duke, gave an interview to the Sports Business Journal wherein he outlined his belief that there is a way to play football this season while mitigating the risks involved with COVID-19.

"Can we safely have two teams meet on the field? I would say yes. Will it be tough? Yes. Will it be expensive and hard and lots of work? Yes. But I do believe you can sufficiently mitigate the risk of bringing COVID onto the football field or into the training room at a level that's no different than living as a student on campus," Dr. Wolfe said.

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This all, of course, comes on the heels of the Big Ten and Pac-12 canceling their fall sports seasons, with long-shot hopes that they can be made up in the spring. The Pac-12 went so far as to cancel all non-conference basketball games as well, halting sports through the end of the calendar year..

UNC head coach Mack Brown spoke at length about college football's crisis Tuesday morning, reiterating his and his team's desire to play while at the same time deferring to the opinions of the league's medical advisors. Brown did not foresee a situation where the ACC would plow forward with a season if the majority of other Power 5 leagues wind up demurring.

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"I know our league wants to play, so that hasn't even been brought up," Brown said. "If some of the others don't play, I don't know what that does for us. I don't see leagues playing by themselves. If we see three or four of the (Power 5) leagues saying they don't think it's healthy, then I think that people across the country would really be concerned. If enough people think it's not safe then why would we do it?"

Last week, the ACC set an 11-game schedule, which will begin Sept.12. All teams are scheduled to play one non-conference game.

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