With college athletics shut down nationwide due to concerns about the coronavirus, UNLV is in a holding pattern for the foreseeable future, leaving administrators with more questions than they have answers.
Here are some of those questions:
Is there any chance spring sports resume?
The NCAA’s statement said the remaining winter and spring sports were canceled for this academic year. In an interview with The Associated Press, NCAA president Mark Emmert didn’t rule out resuming spring sports, but made it clear the chances weren’t high.
What about spring football?
That’s shut down for now, too. The Rebels may not be able to practice until training camp in August.
What would not having spring football mean?
Especially for a new coaching staff led by Marcus Arroyo, it would be a major setback. The entire roster is new to these coaches, and there are decisions to be made from quarterback to long snapper.
Implementing new offensive and defensive systems will be much more difficult as well if forced to wait until August. It’s one thing to draw up plays on a dry-erase board or show a video, it’s another to get on the practice field and try to execute them.
How is recruiting affected?
No in-person recruiting for all sports until at least April 15 is far from ideal, but not a killer since coaches can still recruit prospects through other means. But in person is when coaches often truly get a feel for a player’s character and how he or she might fit on the team, and athletes can better weigh what it would be like playing for a particular coach.
What about extra eligibility for spring sports athletes?
An NCAA committee announced Friday there would be “eligibility relief” for all Division I athletes who compete in spring sports. That leaves open questions regarding roster limits as well as scholarship costs for those who would have been departing seniors who choose to return next year. Details, the NCAA said, would be worked out later.
Will fans who bought tickets for canceled events be refunded?
Those who bought single-game tickets will be refunded. Season-ticket holders will receive a prorated amount back.
What about fall sports, including football?
If UNLV, Mountain West and NCAA officials are satisfied that the current lockdown has been effective and life begins to return to normal in the next month or two, those sports should begin on time.
But if the virus and its effects are a major problem in July, officials will need to have serious discussions about how to proceed, if at all.
Another scenario is the virus could act like many flus and dissipate once the weather warms but return in the fall and winter and disrupt the sports scene again. That’s similar to what happened with the Spanish flu, which appeared in the spring of 1918 and re-appeared in September and cost the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans over the following two months.
If the coronavirus is anywhere near that severe, whether sports are played in the fall will be the least of the concerns.