SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ per month. Save 90%
SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ per month. Save 90%

University of Iowa considering a June 1 start for football practice

Charles Flesher
Hawk Central

The University of Iowa is eyeing a June 1 start for football practices, UI President Bruce Harreld told the Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday.

Last month, the university imposed a moratorium on all team activities, including practices, to stem the spread of novel coronavirus.

“We’re ever so hopeful that this virus will be behind us at that point and we’ll be able to get back into what we normally do,” Harreld said.

A return to practice would provide a shot of encouragement for Hawkeye fans hoping to see the football season start on time in the fall.

The team has already missed spring practice, and Harreld said the players would need “six to eight weeks of good practice” before taking the field for a game.

“I’m sure our coaches would love a lot more time so they can make them winners, but the key issue here is safety,” he said.

► More Thursday, from columnist Chad Leistikow:Chris Doyle's Iowa football value put to test during COVID-19 pandemic

The Hawkeyes are scheduled to open the 2020 season Sept. 5 against the University of Northern Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.

But that all depends on whether the country can control the spread of the virus.

College athletics have been on hold since mid-March, when President Donald Trump first declared a national health emergency. The NCAA canceled March Madness and the college wrestling tournament, and ended spring sports season before they even got started.

Harreld, who met with other Big Ten officials earlier in the day, said the conference is "looking at a whole set of safety issues for athletics, not just football,” he said.

► More:Iowa's Kirk Ferentz: Delaying college football season to spring 2021 would be problematic

The Regents asked whether the Hawkeyes could play the season without fans in the stands.

“If we got to the worst of the worst would be let the players play with no fans? I don’t know,” Harreld said. “Because if we’re at that stage with this virus, we’d have to do a lot of testing of the individual players, and I’m not going to go ‘yes or no’ on that. I’m going to refer to the experts.

“But, right now, June 1 is the date we’re going to get back to practice.”

Charles Flesher covers K-12 education for the Register. He can be reached by email at cflesher@registermedia.com or by phone at 515-284-8481. Follow him on Twitter @CharlesFlesher.