The Games Will Go On, But the Opponents Could Change

By Marilyn McNeil, vice president and director of athletics.

Coaches have had to adapt their recruiting practices, and I think they may continue to use some of the new technology they’ve learned during the pandemic. Video calls (Webex, Zoom) will likely be a tool they use to maintain contact with recruits.

Expressions during a video call can give a coach a better feel for the person, their level of maturity, and interest in the program that you can’t absorb through phone, text, or email communication.

Another area that will be given thoughtful consideration is event scheduling and conference realignment. Institutions are going to assess where they’re playing and why. Now that universities were forced to take a hard look into travel and the costs and additional risks it incurs, I think there will be a more practical approach to building conference and non-conference schedules.

Athletic departments are also going to have to work hard to fill seats at their events. COVID-19 is going to stick with people for a while, and I think there will be hesitancy in attending crowded events. We’ve made it very convenient for students and families to stay home and watch livestream coverage, and feeling safer at home could give some fans another reason to opt out of attending.

The majority of changes will apply to the peripheral elements of athletics. Fortunately, I don’t think the rules of sports and how they are played will be affected, and that’s the silver lining. Athletes can adjust to limits
in locker rooms or scheduling training room appointments online. They just want the opportunity to compete in the sport they love.