University of Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins said Wednesday that he does not anticipate the Wildcats playing football this fall, even though the university plans to bring students and faculty back to campus for face-to-face instruction during the fall semester.
In an interview with KVOI-AM in Tucson, Arizona, Robbins said he is worried about intercollegiate sports getting back to normal after the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm really concerned about whether we're going to be playing football in the fall," Robbins told the radio station. "My sense, right now, I just don't see that happening."
If the Wildcats do play this fall, Robbins said he anticipates at least a delay to the start of the season. Arizona is scheduled to kick off the 2020 season against Hawaii at home on Aug. 29.
"We're waiting to see what the NCAA does, what the Pac-12 does," Robbins said. "As much as I want it, you know, it just seems as though if we do play any football in the fall, it's going to be delayed because I've heard nothing and we're headed to May 1. My hope is we're going to get some clarity on this very soon, but it seems unlikely to me. I'd love to see it happen, but we're waiting every day to get some guidance."
Robbins said the scenario he is hearing the most is that fall and winter sports, including men's and women's basketball, would all be played in 2021.
"What I've been hearing more of is that maybe doing something combining both basketball and football for the spring, so January-February 2021, and try to play both of them," Robbins said. "There will be all kind of implications for television viewing and confusion. I don't know. We just don't have any answers right now."
Robbins' comments echoed those of University of Connecticut president Tom Katsouleas, who told students in a UConn journalism class teleconference Tuesday that the "current thinking is that likely fall sports will be canceled -- with the exception of those that can be played at a safe distance."
UConn athletics officials walked back Katsouleas' comments, saying in a statement, "At this point in time, there have been no decisions made to cancel fall sports at UConn. That action would be premature and we will continue to work with our state and local officials, as well as our conference and the NCAA on such matters."
Katsouleas later clarified his comments.
"I did, however, say that the current thinking is that it's likely that fall sports will be canceled," Katsouleas said. "This was not based on any inside knowledge or discussions on the subject and was nothing more than speculation. No decisions have been made about fall sports and when they are made, we will look to the NCAA and our conference to take the lead on those choices."
Robbins conceded that his opinions about delaying fall sports or pushing them back to the spring were his "personal reading of the tea leaves."
"It's going to be very difficult to start the [football] schedule as it currently exists," Robbins said.