Jack Swarbrick: ‘Less Likely’ College Football Season Starts On Time
Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame’s athletics department have controlled what they can control — themselves. And commendably. Notre Dame announced zero COVID-19 cases among players or staff on Tuesday after its latest round of testing July 1. The one football player who tested positive in June has recovered.
Notre Dame, though, is only one small factor in the equation that will determine if college football can be played. And not every other program, or the country at whole, has seen the results that make everyone comfortable and confident about moving forward with an on-time start to the season.
Swarbrick isn’t blind to the COVID-19 cases in other athletics departments that have led to paused workouts, or the recent surge in cases across the country that has set records for daily new cases. The downward trend is lessening his optimism that the season starts as scheduled, he told ESPN on Thursday.
“It has grown more pessimistic over the past two weeks, but I’m not to a point to say we shouldn’t continue to plan for the potential to open on time,” Swarbrick told ESPN’s Heather Dinich. “I just think it’s less likely. We have to shift our allocations a little bit — a little more time on planning the alternatives, and a little less time on planning routine go forward.”
Notre Dame’s opener is set for Sept. 5 or 6 at Navy. The Midshipmen reported back to campus July 5 and are in the middle of a 14-day quarantine before starting workouts. The Irish’s protocols are thorough and far reaching as well. Players have been staying in an on-campus hotel and, largely, remaining there or the football facility for workouts.
“It’s so much about the guys and talking with [them], making sure there’s an understanding, appealing to them to do all they can to protect their season,” Swarbrick said. “They understand there’s only two to an elevator in the hotel. They understand they’re not to congregate in rooms. And they’re just doing it.”
Notre Dame’s in-season and game-day safety precautions will be stringent, Swarbrick said. He noted there is a plan in place for travel that includes restrictions on visiting family and friends who come to the game. Players and staff will be tested weekly, and anyone who hasn’t been tested that week will not be allowed on the team charter plane to go play Navy.
Navy is operating under the assumption it will play the scheduled opener as well.
“We still plan on playing them, and whether there are fans or not, that's the X factor,” Navy athletics director Chet Gladchuk said. “But in communicating with Notre Dame this week … they’re getting ready to go. At least we can hope we can create some entertainment for television and see what happens.”
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