The Wolverine

June-July 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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38 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2020 BY JOHN BORTON T he NCAA ban regarding voluntary on-campus ath- letic activities for football and basketball is gone, at least for June 1-30. College players — if allowed by their conference, state and school — can once again use their high-tech, high-dollar training areas. Whether that is the beginning of kicking open another door remains to be seen. The one they would like to see involves the go-ahead for a football season, which paves the way for all other sports. Clearly, COVID-19 still holds the ultimate say in whether college foot- ball takes the stage in the fall, waits a bit or disappears altogether for 2020-21. Michigan director of ath- letics Warde Manuel acknowledged as much in a recent message to all regarding what's ahead. "We're trying to figure out the next best steps for everybody's health and safety and progress. … We're still trying to continue to figure out the best path for our student-athletes, our coaches, our programs, our fans, our donors as it relates to Michigan athletics," Manuel said May 7 on Jon Jansen's 'In The Trenches' podcast. "We have a great team of people in all those categories that are really pulling their weight and doing a phe- nomenal job coming together." His head football coach has made it abundantly clear he's prepping as if there is going to be a season. Jim Harbaugh noted on The Dan Patrick Show May 12 that Michigan will be ready to play even if a full comple- ment of college squads is not. "Can we play again is the big ques- tion on everyone's mind," Harbaugh offered. "We don't know right now. If the governor allows our gyms to open up, then we should be able to get our guys back into the weight rooms and start training. "There are a lot of smart people working on this. Can we eventually play the games? I don't think any- one knows that for sure. I could see [some schools playing in the fall and others not]. "I'd be more for that than saying 'If all can't play, then nobody plays.' I've never been a big fan of that kind of thinking. All options are being looked at, like the length of the schedules — will it just be the conference schedule? "Do you play the games with a cer- tain percentage of fans or do no fans come at all? Those things are being talked about and looked at." As for Michigan playing in a season when not everyone could, Manuel remained publicly non-committal. "We haven't gotten to that level of discussion yet," he said. "We've talked about a lot of different things, but we really haven't gone down to the level of what if 10 of 12 can play; what if it's eight? What's the cutoff, those kinds of things. I think we're all moving in the direction of having hope that we all can play, and then we'll see how things are going. "We have pretty much been a group that is locked into being fair to every- one. In setting June 1 as a possible day for us to return to organized team ac- tivities, we looked at the dates certain states were out to in terms of stay-at- home orders. June 1 was the furthest point out everyone would be able to start as of that time." Everyone is making preparation as far as what will happen when the return comes about, Manuel noted. For Michigan athletics, it will involve temperature checks when entering a building, questions about how indi- vidual athletes feel and other precau- tions. Eventually, he wants to be able to test staff and student-athletes on a consistent basis. "There are a lot of things I hope ath- letically get done, but the main thing is we want to make sure our students and student-athletes can come back and experience Michigan and our ed- ucation here in Ann Arbor," Manuel said. "I think that's a big key for us be- ing able to play sports, is to have our student-athletes back in Ann Arbor with all the other students. To bring MOVING FORWARD MOVING FORWARD Nobody's Conceding Football Season — Yet Head coach Jim Harbaugh "All options are being looked at, like the length of the schedules — will it just be the conference schedule? Do you play the games with a certain percentage of fans or do no fans come at all? Those things are being talked about and looked at." Capacity crowds are likely not happening during the 2020 season at Michigan Stadium, which will break the program's 293-game streak of drawing at least 100,000 fans. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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