48.6 F
Wichita
Saturday, October 31, 2020

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

Sports Headlines

KNDY Area High School Football Scoreboard – 10/30/2020

NORTH CENTRAL KANSAS LEAGUE Chapman 39, Goodland 13 (Non-Playoff) Marysville 45, Colby 21 McPherson 78, Abilene 14 (Thursday) Scott City 24, Concordia 14 Southeast of Saline 46, Clay Center...

KNDY Area High School Football Playoff Scoreboard – 10/29/2020

8-Man D-I Clifton-Clyde 46, Bennington 0 Washington Co. at Little River – Friday (95.5 KNDY-FM) 8-Man D-II Axtell 42, Thunder Ridge 40 Frankfort 60, Lakeside 14 Hanover 56, Osborne 6 St....

Sporting KC punches playoff ticketwith 1-0 win at FC Cincinnati

Sporting Kansas City (11-6-3, 36 points) clinched a berth in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs following a 1-0 road win over...

K-State Basketball Schedule Set With 17 Home Contests In 2020-2021

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Seventeen home games at Bramlage Coliseum, including the inaugural Little Apple Classic that will tip off the season on November 25...

KU Men’s Basketball Announces Revised 2020-21 Schedule

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s basketball today announced its updated 2020-21 schedule, including the Big 12 Conference round-robin details. KU will have four additional...
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.
CREDIT GREG ECHLIN / KCUR 89.3

“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.
CREDIT GREG ECHLIN / KCUR 89.3 FILE PHOTO

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

ACLU of Kansas Files Complaint For Ellis County Election Worker Over Lack of Mask Mandate

By Sherman Smith - Kansas Reflector TOPEKA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is seeking an investigation into the refusal of the Ellis...

Lyons Man Charged With Attempted Capital Murder In Connection With Rice County Shootings

LYONS – (October 28, 2020) – A Lyons man has been charged with attempted capital murder in connection with the October 16 incident that...

Junction City Man Sentenced To Two Life Terms For Two Counts Of First Degree Felony Murder

JUNCTION CITY – (October 28, 2020) – A Junction City man has been sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility...

Governor Laura Kelly Announces Peerless Products Expansion to Create Over 100 Jobs in Iola

IOLA – Governor Laura Kelly today celebrated the announcement of Peerless Products, Inc., purchasing a 150,000-square-foot facility in Iola to expand its production capability. Peerless...

Resident Death at Hutchinson Correction Facility

TOPEKA, Kansas – A Hutchinson Correctional Facility resident who died Tuesday, Oct. 27 had tested positive for COVID-19. This is the seventh resident death...

Kansas News Service

‘It Is Not Sustainable’: Kansas’ Online Teachers Are Overworked And Quitting

WICHITA, Kansas — Less than a week into the new school year, the warning came: the school district’s COVID-19 learning plan expected too much from...

Kansas Nursing Homes Still Waiting On Coronavirus Testing Gear From The Feds, And Can’t Afford Labs

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen - Kansas News Service Phillips County Retirement Center got a coronavirus testing machine this month from the U.S. Department of Health and...

Scathing Federal Inspection Pulls Curtain Back On One Of Kansas’ Deadliest Coronavirus Outbreaks

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen - Kansas News Service At a Kansas City, Kansas, nursing home, employees tested positive for COVID-19 and went back to work the...

Federal Prosecutors Defy Court Order In Cases Over Attorney-Client Recordings In Leavenworth

By Dan Margolies - Kansas News Service The U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas, says it will no longer cooperate with cases brought by...

Emails Show Kansas Agencies Helped Keep Meatpacking Plants Open Despite Concerns About Coronavirus

By Corinne Boyer - Kansas News Service GARDEN CITY, Kansas — In mid-May, Finney County’s top public health physician sent an email to state health...