By Michael Erb, Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said the Mountaineers must take the field again to help the Mountain State.
“The spirit of the Mountaineers is a very important component of the spirit of this state,” he said. “You just feel it, you sense it, people are anxiaous.”
Gee spoke online last week with the Ogden News editorial board about how football and other college sports might be affected by the COVID-19 shutdown. The college canceled on-campus classes for the remainder of the semester and officials are determining the best way to reach a “new normal” as the state looks to begin reopening.
West Virginia is still under a stay-at-home order and limits on how many people can gather in a group. Federal, state and local officials have asked people to wear masks when in public and to observe social distancing whenever possible.
All of those factors, Gee said, make football all but impossible.
“Do I think there is going to be college football in the fall? I certainly hope so,” he said. But, “we cannot play football without students. You don’t keep the university shut down and then play football.”
Gee said much will depend on how the various executive orders are changed or eased in the coming weeks and months. If the number of people permitted in a gathering increases, the college could look at other options to help keep people safe.
“We may have to give everyone coming into the stadium a mask. We may have to social distance,” he said.
Gee said there are ongoing discussions on changing the start or length of the season and other ways to address the situation, but “we have five power leagues. If we don’t do the same thing, then we’ve got a very serious problem.”
Gee said there are concerns the loss of revenue from football could damage all of the college’s sports program. …