By LARRY VAUGHT
While we await news on what the Southeastern Conference plans to do about football this year, we know that high school football in Kentucky still has a plan for playing this season.
However, there’s one coach who already knows his football team won’t be playing. Andy Frye is the long-time head coach of Division III Centre College in Danville and the Southern Athletic Association has already announced it won’t have fall sports. A number of other Division III conferences have done the same thing even as big-time conferences continue with plans to have fall sports.
“The middle of June I felt very confident we were going to be playing. We had worked very hard on policies and procedures to keep everyone safe. Then within a week everything turned over on its head and I realized this may not happen,” Frye said.
Frye is disappointed for his 22 seniors who have stuck out three years of paying their way to school and playing football. But he also understands there were almost 160 Centre spring sports athletes who did not get to have their senior seasons, either, due to COVID-19.
“What we are all hoping is that the season will be extended into the spring,” Frye said. “The college is very supportive of us having a non-traditional season. Our kids just want to play football. If we can get in pads this fall and just practice they will be happy. But everything is a moving target. We just don’t know. I don’t think our players were shocked about no season.They had seen the handwriting on the wall from what had happened other places.”
Frye also worries about schools that might not be as sound financially if there are no sports or not students on campus.
Frye said so far all his players still plan to return for the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 26th. He has talked to some coaches who think 40 to 50 players on their teams might not return with no football this year.
“The difference here is our kids will fight out to win but football for the most part is not the means to an end for them,” Frye said. “Some schools we compete against are admission driven and bring in lot of players for football. Now if we go virtual, things could change here with players. They will still be enrolled but won’t spend money to pay for room and board here when they can do the same class at home.”
Frye believes there will be a “purge” of collegiate sports across the country if there is no football to generate revenue athletics departments need. He does believe Power-5 teams will play because they have the money to do elaborate and regular COVID-19 testing just like pro leagues have.
“We will just wait and see what happens with us. I know our kids just want to play and if there is a time or way we can do that, we will be happy. If not, then we just have to understand this is about safety,” Frye said.