Notre Dame athletic director: 'Less likely' that football season starts on time

Finebaum says he doubts college football will start on time (1:37)

Paul Finebaum doesn't see how the college football season could begin on time but explains why playing in the spring is "beyond the last resort" for Power 5 conferences. (1:37)

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Thursday he thinks it's "less likely" the college football season starts on time, citing growing concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"It has grown more pessimistic over the past two weeks, but I'm not to a point to say we shouldn't continue to plan for the potential to open on time," Swarbrick said in an interview with ESPN. "I just think it's less likely. We have to shift our allocations a little bit -- a little more time on planning the alternatives, and a little less time on planning routine go-forward."

Notre Dame's return plan, which has its football players living in a hotel on campus for the summer, has largely worked. Notre Dame has tested a total of 252 students, coaches and staff and received just one positive result.

"It's so much about the guys and talking with [them], making sure there's an understanding, appealing to them to do all they can to protect their season," Swarbrick said. "... They understand there's only two to an elevator in the hotel. They understand they're not to congregate in rooms. And they're just doing it."

Swarbrick said that although some upperclassmen with off-campus residences have left the hotel to do laundry or something, "for the most part" the players are staying around the hotel and the football facility.

Notre Dame last month was the first major school to announce a change to its football schedule when it moved the season-opening game against Navy to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, likely on Labor Day weekend -- if possible. It was originally scheduled to be played in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 29.

"We're prepared for that," Swarbrick said of the new tentative date for the game, "but we also recognize it's at risk."

Later Thursday, Notre Dame had its nonconference game against Wisconsin -- scheduled for Oct. 3 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin -- canceled as the Big Ten made the decision to play a conference-only schedule for all fall sports.

Swarbrick issued a statement saying Notre Dame is committed to working with Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez about scheduling a game at Lambeau Field in the future and that the Irish "look forward" to next year's game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Swarbrick said there's already a plan in place for the team to travel to Navy, including what happens on arrival and the players' ability to visit with their family. He said that, as usual, the football team would charter a plane to Maryland and the university would determine who gets on it.

"We'll be even more rigorous about that," he said. "You're not getting on that plane if you haven't been tested that week."

Likewise, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said the amount of detail involved in developing protocols for home and away games "would blow you away."

"We still plan on playing them, and whether there are fans or not, that's the X factor," Gladchuk said. "But in communicating with Notre Dame this week, they're all ... they're getting ready to go. At least we can hope we can create some entertainment for television and see what happens."