College football commissioners to Pence: College sports can’t return until campuses have reopened

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FIULE - In this April 13, 2020, file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington. The commissioners of the major college football conferences held a 30-minute conference call Wednesday, April 15, 2020, with Vice President Mike Pence and stressed to him that college sports could not return from the coronavirus shutdown until college campuses have re-opened. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The commissioners of the nation's major college football conferences held a 30-minute conference call Wednesday with Vice President Mike Pence and stressed that college sports cannot return from the coronavirus shutdown until campuses have reopened.

The 10 commissioners, along with the athletic director of Notre Dame, comprise the College Football Playoff management committee.

“We were able to talk about the differences between us and professional sports,” American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said. “We talked about how academics and college athletics were inseparable.”

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Pence asked good questions and was “hopeful and optimistic” about the fight against the coronavirus. The pandemic has shut down all major sporting events since mid-March and forced colleges to close campuses and move classes online.

The White House has said it is important to re-open the U.S. economy, though the details on how that will happen will be complicated and likely involve local, state and federal guidelines on safety. President Donald Trump has also been engaged with professional sports leagues with the multibillion-dollar sports industry on hold.

The college football season is scheduled to begin Labor Day weekend, but many questions remain to be answered for a sport that is the lifeblood for many athletic departments.

“(We) made the point we were concerned and wanted to get back to having kids attending college and opening up our colleges and universities," Bowlsby said. "That until that happened we weren't going to be having any sports.”

The commissioners would like major college football to start at the same time all over the country, which could be difficult depending on how the pandemic fades.