In a press conference Monday afternoon, Colorado Buffaloes athletics director Rick George expressed confidence for the coming fall regarding football.
“We’re ready to play,” he said.
In the first press conference since the Pac-12 announced that it would be going to conference-only scheduling, George touted the benefits and flexibility that this setup brings to the table. One thing it doesn’t bring? The kickoff game against Colorado State. He mentioned that Rams’ AD Joe Parker understood their position. George added that he would love to play CSU if it could happen. George hopes other games, like Texas A&M and Fresno State, can be rescheduled for a later year.
But George returned to the schedule flexibility time and again.
“What was most important was that we play football this fall,” he said. Going conference-only gives Colorado the ability “to have the same protocols in place” as the rest of the schools in protecting their student-athletes.
Caring for the Whole Athlete
George also spoke at length about how the Buffs staff is changing to meet the needs of their student-athletes. “Temperature checks and symptom checks” are done daily. Surveillance testing starts this week on all 175 student-athletes that have returned to campus. Curbside pickup for meals and nutrition has also been a success. Staff handed out a record 277 meals Monday while eclipsing 4,000 meals since the start of this program.
But it’s not just the physical that Buffs staff worries about. Said George, “I worry about our student-athletes when there’s not a pandemic going on,” and “their health and safety are paramount to what we do”. George noted that both parents and student-athletes are being informed of developments. Additionally, scholarships for any student-athlete who doesn’t feel comfortable participating will be honored.
George also talked about the “Whole Athlete” focus of Colorado’s latest 3-year plan. This program not only focuses on the health and wellness of the student-athlete, but also the career development and leadership skills of the young men and women who graduate from Colorado.
- Colorado did some moving around in its athletic department. Jason DePaepe has been promoted to the Deputy Athletic Director, with Miguel Rueda helping out with health and wellness initiatives.
- George also talked about the differences in the fan experience. The decision on stadium attendance will come in the next couple of weeks, and the social distancing measures will be explained in coming videos.
- Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who tested positive for the coronavirus last week, is having mild symptoms. Scott participated in all the conference’s conference calls on Friday.
- The last resort for George in terms of cost-cutting is cutting sports. He called it “the last choice we have” and that coming close to the DI minimum sports requirement isn’t “why we wouldn’t cut sports.”