The Power 5 conference commissioners recently had a conference call with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and are hoping to glean some insight from the league as it takes the lead in navigating football through the coronavirus pandemic, ACC commissioner John Swofford said on Thursday.
Swofford, who recently concluded virtual ACC spring meetings, told several reporters on a teleconference that the conversation with Goodell was "very positive" and that he thinks there will be more.
"They're ahead of us in terms of developing protocols as to how they can bring players back, and how they would test, and if they [are] playing before [when] a full stadium of fans were allowed, how many fans would be allowed in the stadium," Swofford said. "They have to deal with different state regulations just like we may have to deal with that, but from a medical standpoint, I think we can certainly learn from them as they move into their training camps and playing games because their cycle is ahead of ours."
Swofford said the commissioners have a preexisting relationship with the NFL that has helped the communication between the two. In December, they typically have a meeting in New York with NFL executives when they are there for the College Football Hall of Fame dinner.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said he wanted to protect that privacy of the call, but that they have the ability to "talk to any number of people associated with the professional leagues" who are dealing with many of the same questions and issues.
"Each of us on every side of every phone call can learn a bit in this time," he said. "The more we can learn, the better decisions we'll make."
Last month, the College Football Playoff management committee spoke to Vice President Mike Pence about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on college athletics, and the commissioners stressed to Pence how different the college landscape is from that of professional leagues. Swofford said that in spite of those differences -- the biggest being the closure of campuses around the country -- there still are plenty of benefits for both sides to continue conversations.
"We'll keep those lines of communication open and see what we can learn as they get back into training camps and preparing to play a season ahead of us," Swofford said. "That can be a good thing in terms of us seeing what works for them and understanding what may not work so well for them and seeing how it can apply to the college game."