63.5 F
Saturday, March 6, 2021

College Football Schedules Unsettled As Coronavirus Cases Spike In Kansas And The U.S.

Sports Headlines

Bulldogs, Wildcats & Mustangs Advance To Sub-State Championships Saturday

Friday night semifinals in sub-state basketball saw the Hanover boys defeat Axtell 67-46, and Wetmore held off Linn 48-26 setting up Saturday championships with...

Royals Sign Outfielder Jarrod Dyson To A One-Year Contract

SURPRISE, AZ (March 5, 2021) – The Kansas City Royals announced today that they have signed outfielder Jarrod Dyson to a one-year...

Sub-State Action Continues As Area Teams Punch Their Ticket To The Championships

Thursday night semifinals in sub-state basketball saw the Hanover Lady Wildcats advance over Blue Valley 72-38, while Wetmore held off Linn 34-30. Hanover and...

Jayhawks Use Big Second Half to Overcome UTEP, 67-62

Courtesy of Kansas Athletics LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks overcame a 15-point second-half deficit to upend UTEP...

Kansas City Chiefs Announce Naming Rights Agreement For Arrowhead Stadium

Courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs The Kansas City Chiefs and GEHA (pronounced G.E.H.A.) today announced that GEHA will...
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications.After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations.In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

By Greg Echlin – Kansas News Service

BALDWIN CITY, Kansas — College athletics departments in Kansas are needing to make a call as the number of coronavirus cases climb across the country and in their own ranks: Cancel fall sports, delay them until the spring, try in-conference games only or something in between.

At the center of it all is football — the high-contact sport that brings in money from the top college level to the small schools.

Dozens of schools have reported coronavirus cases among team members at voluntary workouts. And earlier this summer, Kansas State became one of the first major college teams in the country to shut the workouts down because of a high number of positive tests. The University of Kansas soon followed suit.

Already, three of the five major college conferences (Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12) have said they’ll only play against teams in their conference. The SEC will push back fall sports until at least Aug. 31. The Ivy and Patriot leagues are calling off their fall seasons entirely. The National Junior College Athletic Association voted to move football to the spring.

The Big 12, which includes KU and K-State, is expected to make its decision at the end of the month.

Without the money from big-time sports, universities that are already hurting financially after having to shift fully online in the spring will suffer. But so will the college towns.

Baker University drives the economy in Baldwin City, Kansas, a town of more than 4,700 that’s about a half-hour from Lawrence. Of the roughly 800-plus students on campus at Baker, 66% play one of the school’s 24 varsity sports.

In early June, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced that all of its schools — Baker included — would be reduced to nine regular-season games from 11. It’s still uncertain if fans will be allowed to attend the home games because the NAIA is leaving it up to schools to follow state and local requirements.

Nate Houser is Baker University’s athletic director.

“The potential of not having our family at games, it’s something that’s going to be very, very different,” Baker athletics director Nate Houser said.

Already, Baldwin City’s 63rd annual Maple Leaf Festival has been cancelled for the fall. Apryl Strawn, the manager of Jo’s Diner in town, said the possibility of football without fans could be devastating to their business.

“It’ll be awful,” Strawn said. “It’ll be absolutely awful.”

The athletes’ health vs. financial health 

Whether football is played in Baldwin City or at KU, the issue is the same: How do you avoid transmission of coronavirus in a sport where you’re lined up next to each other and hit other players constantly?

It’s a question KU Director of Athletics Jeff Long has been pondering all summer, and hasn’t been able to answer.

“We don’t know what the impact of practicing, closed-quarters hitting, tackling, all those things will have on a team,” Long said during a Kansas City Public Library virtual forum last month.

Players came back to campus for voluntary workouts from all over the country, including Texas, which has seen a dramatic spike in cases.

The field before last year’s KU vs. K-State rivalry game.

But epidemiologist Dr. Chris Hostler, who is a consultant for the NFL and the Big 12 (which KU and K-State are a part of), said coronavirus can be anywhere.

“We’re going to continue to have athletes and staff who are positives, who are coming from different areas of the country,” said Hostler, who is based in Durham, North Carolina. “Or even just remaining in their communities.”

And there’s another thing to consider: If any scholarship athlete, man or woman, chooses to sit out this fall as a health precaution, would he or she lose that full ride to college? The Pac-12 says no. With the Big 12 leaving it up to its members — K-State says it will honor scholarships but is still working out the terms of the language, while KU hadn’t provided its policy by the time this story went to print.

But more than anything, college administrators are aware of the added financial pinch if there are no college football games this fall.

“When people ask, ‘Why is it so important for you to play football, play basketball?” It’s to generate the revenue to fund that program,” Long said.

A major college football program like KU or K-State generates an average of $78 million according to a recent study by USA Today.

Within the Big 12, the Texas schools (Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU) figure to already see less money. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently mandated that no schools can have more than 50% fan capacity at home games.

But Hostler said what’s happening in Texas won’t dictate a uniform set of recommendations.

“What happens in West Virginia is going to be very different than what happens a couple states away in Iowa or in Oklahoma,” he said.

Greg Echlin is a freelance sports reporter.

Kansas Headlines

Kansas Senate Republicans Swiftly Shut Door On Proposed Medicaid Expansion Amendment

By Noah Taborda - Kansas Reflector TOPEKA — Efforts to expand Medicaid in Kansas were dealt a blow Wednesday after an amendment to do just...

Legislature Moves Quickly To Spare Kansas Towns From Financial Ruin Over Gas Bills

By Sherman Smith - Kansas Reflector TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers moved with lightning speed Wednesday to pass legislation providing $100 million in low-interest loans to...

Hearing for Proposed Adoption of Conservation Regulation

MANHATTAN, Kansas — A public hearing will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, to consider the revision of a regulation...

KDHE Launches Mobile Testing Unites

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is launching three mobile testing units for COVID-19 in order to expand testing access...

Some COVID-19 Tests Come With ‘Criminal’ Prices, Experts Say, So Get Tested For Free Instead

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen - Kansas News Service A year into the pandemic, COVID-19 testing has become easier to get — just not necessarily cheaper. If you...

Kansas News Service

Some COVID-19 Tests Come With ‘Criminal’ Prices, Experts Say, So Get Tested For Free Instead

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen - Kansas News Service A year into the pandemic, COVID-19 testing has become easier to get — just not necessarily cheaper. If you...

Investigation Continues After Three Wichita Police Officers Are Injured By Possible Booby Trap

By Tom Shine - Kansas News Service Local and federal authorities continue to investigate a shooting that injured three Wichita police officers. Police said the officers...

Kansas Customers Left To Pay The Price After Winter Storm Sends Natural Gas Prices Soaring

By Brian Grimmett - Kansas News Service WICHITA, Kansas — Last February, the city of Cheney, Kansas – located just west of Wichita – paid about $2 per...

Kansas Foster Care Providers Say They’ve Gotten Better, But Critics Say They Need To Do Better

By Nomin Ujiyediin - Kansas News Service The long-troubled foster care system in Kansas got hit with yet another complication over the last year. Pandemic complications...

Ex-KU Med Center Official Pleads Guilty To Tax And Embezzlement Charges

By Dan Margolies - Kansas News Service A former administrator at the University of Kansas Medical Center pleaded guilty on Tuesday to bank fraud and...