Minnesota AD ‘Optimistic’ for Fall Return of Sports

June 29, 2020 / Athletic Administration
University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle is preparing for the Gophers’ fall athletic season as if it will resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minnesota football players are already back on campus and Coyle told the Star Tribune that soon members of their soccer, volleyball, and basketball teams will resume athletic activities on campus.

Photo: Lorie Shaull / Creative Commons

According to an article in the Star Tribune, Coyle has spent the past several weeks preparing a safe return to athletics on the Minnesota campus on the advice of various medical professionals, school officials, and athletic governing bodies.

“The health and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff will always be our top priority,” Coyle wrote in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. “Our staff has spent the past several weeks preparing for our student-athletes to return to campus and has worked diligently to provide them with the safest environment possible. Our decision to bring students back to campus is supported by medical experts and leadership at the NCAA, Big Ten, and on campus.

“I am optimistic that we will be playing fall sports,” he continued. “Our return-to-campus plan was led by Executive Associate Athletics Director Julie Manning, Senior Associate Athletics Director Joi Thomas and Medical Director Dr. Bradley Nelson. It contained input from Dr. Brian Hainline, who is the NCAA’s chief medical officer, as well as from the Big Ten Infectious Disease Committee, which is composed of 14 outstanding medical professionals — including Dr. Nelson — who have advised the Big Ten Conference and its athletic directors.”

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As the story progressed, the subject of athletic budgets and the possibility of having to cut sports from the program if revenue continues to fall. While Coyle told the Star Tribune that the possibility is “very real”, he added that several members of the Gophers’ executive staff and head coaches have taken voluntary pay reductions in an effort to combat that scenario.

“Our revenue-generating sports are extremely important to us, but our focus remains competing in every sport we sponsor this year,” Coyle said. “There are still a lot of unknowns with regards to capacity at home games this year and how that will affect us, but we will be able to get through it. Our staff has mapped out multiple scenarios and has been preparing for each one.”

To read the full story from the Star Tribune on the University of Minnesota preparing to resume athletics in a fuller capacity, click here