FAYETTEVILLE – The Ivy League’s decision to cancel all men’s and women’s fall semester athletics for 2020 won’t either way affect whether the University of Arkansas, and the Southeastern Conference play sports this fall, Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek predicted.
Yurachek and 1980 UA graduate and former Lady Razorback track sprinter Linda Bedford-Jackson were on the UA Alumni’s Lunch and Learn session Thursday on Zoom.
Yurachek was asked about the Ivy League already cancelling all fall sports in the ongoing wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus that cancelled all collegiate sports from mid-March through the June spring semester and in the SEC of which Arkansas is a part only since June 8 allowed fall sports programs voluntarily to lift weights and conditioning drills on the 14 SEC schools’ campuses.
All eight Ivy League teams represent private schools in the Northeast.
They are not mandated like the public University of Arkansas to run a self-supported athletic program.
“That’s an easy decision for the Ivy League to make because they lose money on their athletic programs year in and year out,” Yurachek said. “They are going to save money and financially be in a better place as an institution because their institution funds the entire athletic program. So that will have very little impact on any decisions we make at this level. They can say that is for the health and safety and well-being of the student-athletes. And there is a piece of that that is true. But that’s also a financial decision for the Ivy League as well.”
More significant to Arkansas, post the UA’s Lunch and Learn the Big Ten as one of college’s Power Five conferences announced Thursday afternoon its 2020 fall sports schedules have scrapped nonconference competition and will compete strictly within the Big Ten.
More than the Midwest and Northeast based Big Ten, Yurachek is well aware that COVID-19 seems increasing throughout the South encompassing much of the SEC’s 11 states.
The Razorbacks fall semester sports of football, men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball currently prepare to play on schedule but know that can change quickly like the Ivy League and Big Ten.
It was reported Thursday by Otis Kirk of Hogville.net that seven Razorbacks football players and one assistant coach have tested positive for COVID-19.
“We have had student-athletes that have tested positive,” Yurachek said on Thursdays Lunch and Learn without delving into specifics. “But all but one of those cases are from a student-athlete traveling back home or to some other location and bringing that virus as we have traced it back with them. We have not had one that has been passed locally within any of our students. That’s becoming more and more challenging. Because they are 18 to 22 year olds, most of them are not scared by this virus.”
Yurachek said the UA’s medical staff, training staff and coaches continue stressing the basics of hand-washing and mask-wearing and respecting precautions against the virus that in the U.S has killed 135,000 including some young and presumed healthy. He said even if Arkansas athletes and staff do all they can, it’s not just up to Arkansas if the Razorbacks will play“There’s 11 different states represented within the Southeastern Conference,” Yurachek said. “Texas, Florida and South Carolina are really struggling right now with this virus. That can have an impact on what our fall sports season looks like. We can do things really, really well here in Arkansas, but what other states do could impact us negatively”