Pat Chun speaks about changes to athletics

Spring football practice suspended; athletes to start online classes



WSU Athletics Director Pat Chun said he does not know how the athletic department will be affected by COVID-19.

GRACE ARNIS, Former Evergreen managing editor

“We have no foreseeable start date,” WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun said.

He spoke about the future of spring football season and WSU athletics in the era of COVID-19 during a press conference Friday. Chun said WSU are one of three college football teams that did not have a single spring practice and for now it will remain that way.

Currently there is no “drop dead date” when a decision must be made about the spring football season starting or ending, Chun said.

“We are preparing our coaches to just really think about what the new normal could look like,” he said.

Any mandates from the state and federal government supersedes any plans the NCAA could make for spring football practice, Chun said.

In the state of Washington there is currently a mandate against gatherings of over 50 people. As of 2019, the football team listed 124 participants not including coaches and staff. 

At the moment, the department’s biggest concern is transitioning athletes to online classes, Chun said.

With the changes, he said the athletic department is in “triage mode.” The department does not know what to expect before anything happens. They are thinking about what it will be like for student athletes to start online classes as many student athletes have never taken online courses before.

Sports should be the secondary focus for student athletes right now, he said. The department encourages student athletes to stay at their place of permanent residents like the rest of the students on campus.

“We have to do our part to flatten this curve. We have to practice social distancing,” Chun said. “We are responsible citizens, so really all of our messaging for student athletes is centered around being a global citizen.”

Besides keeping student athletes safe, Chun will also monitor what it means for the athletic department to not receive profits from NCAA March Madness. At the moment, there are no concrete numbers from the Pac-12 or NCAA about money WSU could be losing. However, the department is preparing for it, he said.

Chun also said he felt especially empathetic to senior spring student athletes who were ready for the season. The department will continue to support all student athletes who choose to stay longer at WSU to finish out the extra eligibility granted by the NCAA.

Last week, the NCAA announced it would be extending all spring sport athletes an extra season of eligibility because their entire season has been affected by the virus.

At this time, the NCAA also suspended all on campus recruiting until April 15.