In the midst of an uncertain and challenging environment, the Boston College football program plans to kick off its 2020 season the second weekend in September after the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Wednesday plans to move forward with fall sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
If public health guidance allows, all seven ACC-sponsored sports will begin the week of Sept. 7-12.
On the football field, the Eagles will play an 11-game schedule, with 10 conference games, hosting Georgia Tech, Pitt, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Louisville while traveling to Clemson, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Duke, and Virginia. One game will be played against a non-conference opponent and must be played in the school’s home state. However, BC has a previous agreement with Ohio, and the Bobcat program meets the ACC’s medical and safety requirements.
This will be the first time in ACC history that the league has gone to a 10-game conference schedule. The 11 game slate will be played over 13 weeks with two open dates.
In a release, Boston College said the decision was made after “months of discussion and scenario planning with the league membership and Medical Advisory Group” and was “based on the best available medical guidelines and coincides with our universities’ academic missions.”
“The Atlantic Coast Conference recognizes the uncertain and challenging environment all areas of our society are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read. “Intercollegiate athletics is just one area that we must address as we work to return to our campuses, bring back students and faculty when possible, and pursue our academic missions and goals as part of higher education. The health, safety, and well-being of all our campus constituents is at the forefront of all decisions.”
Notre Dame, which has no football conference affiliation, will also play a 10-game conference schedule for the first time in the program’s 133-year history and be eligible for the ACC championship game, which will be played on either Dec. 12 or 19 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Television revenue, including Notre Dame’s home games broadcast by NBC, will be shared equally between the ACC’s 15 schools.
Games at BC’s Alumni Stadium will likely be played with no spectators, but the decision is not final.
“I think we’re just going to continue to monitor the situation,” said incoming BC athletic director Patrick Kraft. “The announcement was just one step, but there’s a lot to go in front of us. And the No. 1 priority for us here at BC and in the ACC is to keep the athletes as safe as humanly possible. We follow our doctor’s plan and we’ll continue to do that, but we’re not out of the woods at this point at all. This is just another step.
“We will continue to engage with all parties as we move closer to the season, as safety is the top priority. We will communicate with our ticket holders and fans as soon as we have updates.”
The Eagles football team returned to campus last month for voluntary workouts. After an eight-day quarantine, all 93 players were tested, with one confirmed as positive. Since then, the Eagles have moved to group workouts. Another round of testing is scheduled for this week. The team could begin padded practices in another week.
The ACC’s Olympic sports will begin on Sept. 10 and teams in each sport will play a conference schedule that meets the NCAA’s minimum requirement. However, BC will not start playing games until October because its athletes will not arrive until the students do. Field hockey will play six games, men’s and women’s soccer will play six, and volleyball will play 10. Cross-country meets will be held at each school’s discretion. Swimming and diving, indoor track, and fencing will be postponed until Sept. 10. Fall activities for golf, rowing, men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball and baseball have been canceled. Those teams will be able to continue to practice.
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