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ACC confirms it still plans to play football in fall 2020

ACC: “We will continue to follow our process that has been in place for months and has served us well"

North Carolina State v Wake Forest Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Big Ten and Pac-12 both postponed their 2020 football seasons on Tuesday and announced they would instead try to play in spring 2021. However, the ACC moved in the opposite direction, publicly confirming that it still intends to play football this fall.

“The ACC will continue to make decisions based on medical advice, inclusive of our Medical Advisory Group, local and state health guidelines, and do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic missions,” said a statement from the ACC released Tuesday evening.

“The safety of our students, staff and overall campus communities will always be our top priority, and we are pleased with the protocols being administered on our 15 campuses. We will continue to follow our process that has been in place for months and has served us well. We understand the need to stay flexible and be prepared to adjust as medical information and the landscape evolves.”

The SEC and Big 12 have also been unwavering in their commitment to playing football this fall, and it appears that has emboldened the ACC to carry on with its plans. However, the situation is delicate, as multiple reports on Tuesday indicated that the fall of one more Power Five domino, namely the Big 12, could cause the others to bow out of the season as well. But with that said, the Big 12 is “going to continue to pursue playing this season,” according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

Further strengthening the ACC’s resolve is the opinion of Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease expert at Duke who also chairs the ACC’s medical advisory team. On Tuesday, he stated that it is his belief the season can be played safely. To clarify, that does not mean it can be played with no risk, but it can be played with what Wolfe deems acceptable risk.

“I do believe you can sufficiently mitigate the risk of bringing COVID onto the football field or into the training room at a level that’s no different than living as a student on campus,” Wolfe told Michael Smith of Sports Business Journal. “You have to feel some level of comfortable playing in a non-zero risk environment. You can’t tell me that running onto a football field is supposed to be a zero-risk environment. Look at all of the regular sporting injuries that we accept as a certain level of risk as part and parcel of football. Now the reality is that we have to accept a little bit of COVID risk to be a part of that.”

As things currently stand, the ACC is set to kick off its 2020 season one month from today on Sept. 12. That was the case for Pitt as well until the MAC cancelation on Saturday took Miami (Ohio) off the board. Now, it appears Pitt will start its season against Syracuse on Sept. 19 unless it can find another non-conference opponent to schedule in Miami’s place.

But of course everything hinges on the ACC forging ahead with its season, and the conference’s resolve could soften in the weeks ahead as the situation evolves.