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West Virginia AD Shane Lyons ‘Optimistic’ Football Will be Played in September

Cody Nespor

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With all Spring athletic activities canceled by the Big 12, the West Virginia Mountaineers will go into the Summer with only two practices under their belts.

On Saturday the Big 12 announced that there will be no team activities permitted for the rest of the Spring and coaches are allotted only two hours of instruction with their players a week, video only, nothing physical. Even WVU’s Gold-Blue Spring game was canceled.

Last week WVU head coach Neal Brown said he was trying to prepare his team the best he can for the Fall season while everything was up in the air. With these recent developments, people have started to wonder if there will be. football season at all in the Fall.

One person who is optimistic that we’ll have football is West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons. Lyons said he thinks there will be a football season, however, he is unsure what sort of precautions might have to be made.

“I’m very optimistic that we will be playing football come September and the preseason will start on time in August,” Lyons said on a video conference Wednesday. “But what does it look like for the general public and fans showing up and ticket sales? It’s still early on right now to project what that’s going to look like.”

Lyons said his optimism is based on conversations he’s had with medical experts about how the timeline of the COVID-19 outbreak looks right now.

“Based on my conversations (with medical experts), they feel once we get to the late summer, August area that normal life would hopefully be back all across the U.S.,” Lyons said. “It’s my understanding, based on phone calls in the past 48 hours, the pandemic will spike here in the next two to three weeks. And if you…look at what we learned from China, they were saying after the spike it was roughly three months that they started to get back to normal. So if you look at that from us, the spike would occur later this month and…by the time it starts to flatten out it’s late summer and we’re ready to play football.”

Despite his optimism, Lyons said WVU is still preparing and making plans for any alternate scenarios.

“What we need to be prepared…as a football community is make sure that when student-athletes return, that the preseason schedule looks a little different,” Lyons explained. “They haven’t been here, potentially, in the summer, we’re planning for them to be here in the summer to train and condition, but what if that doesn’t happen? What does that preseason look like?…That’s what we’ll be discussing in the next couple weeks, what that looks like.”

Lyons stressed that this is not just a football issue, but a higher education issue. He said it would be hard to bring any student-athletes back to campus if all the other students were not also coming back to start the Fall semester.

As for his optimism towards football starting, Lyons said there are some who agree with him and, of course, others who do not. According to Lyons, he is not necessarily planning on what may or may not happen four months out, but instead planning a few weeks out at a time and adjusting accordingly.

“There’s some athletic directors around the country that share my optimism,” Lyons said. “There’s other people on the other side of the fence that doesn’t think this is going to happen. So I think that’s world-wide, there’s optimists and there’s pessimists and I’m being more optimist at this point. It’s hard to say what does five months look like, so let’s plan on eight, ten weeks out.”

As it stands now, West Virginia’s football season would open up in Sept. 5 against Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

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Cody is currently a second-year graduate student at West Virginia University studying journalism. His graduate research focuses on the effects newspaper closures have on local communities. He graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2018 with a degree in digital media production. He was born and raised in Mercer, Pennsylvania.

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