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No college sports until students return, conference commissioners say

Conference commissioners told Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday that no college sporting events would be played until students are cleared to return to campuses.

UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said she agreed and would support any decisions made by the university and health experts.

“Our student-athletes’ health and safety is our highest priority,” she said. “If it’s not safe for students, then it’s certainly not going to be safe and appropriate for us to compete.”

Universities nationwide, including UNLV, closed in-person classes and moved fully to online instruction because of the coronavirus pandemic. UNLV has not made any decisions on whether to open campus for the fall semester. If campuses are not open by then, the season for football and other fall sports would be in jeopardy, though they could be delayed until spring.

Pence spoke on a conference call with the Power Five and Group of Five commissioners as well as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who make up the College Football Playoff Management Committee.

“Our players are students. If we’re not in college, we’re not having contests,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports. “Our message was, we need to get universities and colleges back open, that we were education-based programs, and we weren’t going to have sports until we had something closer to normal college going on.”

A Mountain West spokesman said Bowlsby’s comments reflected the collective thinking of the commissioners. Craig Thompson of the Mountain West was one of those commissioners on the conference call.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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