As the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other power-five conferences in the NCAA figure out whether or not they will play a college football season, the American Athletic Conference is also weighing its options while keeping a close eye on what the others do.
Mike Aresco, the commissioner of the AAC, joined “Giannotto & Jeffrey” on 92.9 ESPN in Memphis to discuss where his conference stands on the season and noted that there is “no medical reason at this point for not playing.”
“We think there’s a reason to keep moving for now , to see, our medical people don’t feel that anything has changed in recent days to prompt a decision like this that comes kind of suddenly and frankly comes a month-and-a-half or so prior to when a couple of the conferences are even gonna play first game,” he said. “We’ve looked at the data from our counties, and with a few upticks every now and then, there’s been a steady decline of cases in all our counties. Whether its Dallas county, Houston county or whether it’s Florida or whether it’s other places there’s been a steady decline -- and over a two-week period a significant percentage decline – so even there, things with the virus are moving in the right direction.”
Yet, data shows that there is still an overall increase in cases in many of these counties compared to April, May and June.
According to USAFacts.org – a non-partisan collection of government data – Tulsa County (University of Tulsa), Shelby County (University of Memphis), Pitt County (East Carolina), Hillsborough County (USF) and Orange County (UCF) are some examples of those who are down from their spikes, but are still producing more new cases a day compared to their daily rates from April-June.
In Harris County, where the University of Houston plays, there are still well over 1,000 cases per day.
Aresco also argued that having the student-athletes under the guidance and COVID-19 protocols in place would actually be safer than being on campus without them.
“We think that student athletes could well be and likely will be worse off if they don’t play, for all sorts of reasons we can discuss,” he said. “They’ve been practicing in one form or another for a couple of months. Here, we have a good outcome right now. I don’t know what it will be like when students come back to campus, but that begs the question if suddenly things go the wrong way they would have gone the wrong way if these student athletes weren’t playing sports. They might be outside not getting tested, not knowing they have the disease and the outcomes could be a lot worse.”