Dolson: ‘It’s not if, it’s just when’ on starting B1G football season

During a Tuesday virtual meeting of the Bloomington Rotary Club, Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson was certainly asked about the start of the Big Ten football season.

“It’s the million-dollar question,” Dolson said.

Of course, he couldn’t definitively answer it. Dolson wasn’t going to throw out a specific date, even when pointedly asked about a report of a mid-October start from broadcaster Dan Patrick.

“I was born at night but I wasn’t born last night,” Dolson quipped. “I would just never put a date out there I couldn’t be totally sure about.”

But in his first time speaking publicly since the Big Ten halted fall sports, Dolson did offer some optimism. He laid out developments with rapid testing for COVID-19. If it’s possible to test athletes the day of a practice or competition, Dolson said, and to have results before they touch the field, it’s possible to establish a “clean” environment.

“All that being said, I’m optimistic that we can get back to playing again. It’s not if, it’s just when,” Dolson said. “It’s hopeful that it’s sooner than later for multiple reasons.”

Exactly when revenue-generating sports restart in the Big Ten is indeed a million-dollar question. Really, it’s worth tens of millions.

Multiple times, Dolson mentioned the financial “hole” that’s been created by the absence of men’s basketball and football since the pandemic began. In response, IU’s athletic department instituted furloughs, reduced hours by 50 to 100 percent for some staff, and froze positions. Dolson said the department currently has 35 positions that will not be “backfilled.”

IU would only cut sports after every other avenue was exhausted, Dolson said, calling it a “last resort.” But he left a caveat, saying “everything has to be on the table” as IU athletics addresses its financial hole. The true extent of the financial damage won’t be known until the start dates for men’s basketball and football are better understood, as well as potential revenues from broadcast rights and ticket sales.

“There are times people think you want to play because of what I outlined from a financial standpoint. I don’t want to insult your intelligence by saying that’s not true,” Dolson said. “There is certainly some truth in it. It would help financially, for sure. But I can tell you there’s two things. No. 1, the students want to play. The students really, really want to play.

“More than anything … if the experts don’t give us that green light, we won’t do it. Regardless of what the financial implications are.”

In respect to the Big Ten’s decision, Dolson reiterated what has already been widely reported. While the athletic directors put together plans for possibly playing this fall, which were relayed to commissioner Kevin Warren, it was up to the chancellors and presidents to decide based on advice from medical experts. There were still concerns, Dolson said, surrounding the league’s ability to uniformly test and contact trace. Concerns about the possible aftereffects of COVID-19 on athletes’ hearts were also heavily weighed.

Dolson said he has been in constant communication with IU president Michael McRobbie, who reportedly voted to postpone fall sports. McRobbie has not commented on his vote.

“He has an unbelievable weight on his shoulders,” Dolson said. “I look at it as my role to try to make good recommendations, to provide him all the information he needs, and to do all I can to keep things off his plate. … I won’t speak for anyone else, but I feel extremely lucky to have a president who is as supportive as he is, and is willing to listen, and willing to ask great questions, and he’s been great to work for.”

Then again, during the Q and A, Dolson was asked if he wondered how his athletes felt once the Arkansas State-Memphis football game aired on primetime television this past Saturday. IU was originally slated to kick off at Wisconsin last Friday.

“We can’t speak for any other conference or any other school,” Dolson said. “We know what we know internally, and for us, it’s important that we trust our medical experts, when we say it’s about health and safety first, that we actually mean it.

“That doesn’t mean, by me saying that, the other schools aren’t doing that, because I don’t know what their experts are telling them. But I just know, from our perspective, that’s what’s important.”

Again, developments with rapid testing have brightened a path toward a Big Ten sports season. Last week, the Pac-12 announced a partnership with Quidel Corporation to implement daily testing for all close-contact sports. The Pac-12’s commissioner, Larry Scott, has said it’s “preferred but not necessary” to align his conference’s delayed fall season with the Big Ten.

“One of the thoughts is if we can acquire rapid-response testing, the great thing is that you can test on a daily basis and basically have a clean practice field for contact sports, whether it’s men’s basketball, women’s basketball, soccer, football,” Dolson said. “If you test before practice and those results come back in minutes, then you know, in essence, that everyone who is out there, we have a clean field. We have an ability to not worry about contact tracing in practice and in competition, which is a big thing.”

53 comments

  1. Regardless of when. I get that public officials want to communicate. However, par for the course most often. It took all that to say NOTHING.

  2. Yes and even if he could say, the presidents of the B1G aren’t saying so when will anyone know. The “instant” testing will change things but enough for people like DD that is more concerned with the tail end of this virus instead of recognizing the efforts to avoid getting the virus. I hope the decision makers focus more on avoiding the virus the teams are doing to open the season up. To have students on campus but not playing football is not sensible as the teams are working hard to stay free of the virus and students don’t avoid activities to stay free of the virus.

  3. At best rules and guidelines implementation are inconsistent for both, who make them and those who choose to follow them or not follow them.
    There have been some examples of elementary kids attending school getting infected. NOT FROM THE VIRUS. They tested negative from virus. However, they had bacterial infection from wearing masks all day.

  4. news out of Pennsylvania : 20 y/o college football player died from Covid-19. More news that should concern people : there are 500,000 children with Covid-19 infections; and who knows how many infections are being spread.

    1. More info about Stephens death, he was 6 feet, 3 inches and 355 pounds and the college didn’t give COVID19 as the reason for his death, that was his former HS in a face book post that said that. It is not clear what will come out about his death but it is clear he had other health issues that could be the reason.

  5. That young man’s school isn’t playing this season. It’s not clear yet how he contracted the virus, but there’s no evidence as yet that it had anything to do with him playing football.

  6. Read last night IU target 4* Trey Kaufman’s finalists. He announced IU, PUke, Virginia, NC and Indiana State. ISU? Surprising. Is there a connection somewhere? Looks like L’ville dropped by the wayside. I like IU’s odds a lot. Particularly since he and IUBB commit Logan Duncomb play on the same travel team, even as limited as that has been.

    1. “I could play with my teammates I have now and that’s a big part – compatibility”.
      “good chance of going to the tournament and win some games”
      “The relationship with them is probably the best”.

      Per Indy Star interview on Kaufman’s options. Quotes above relate to Indiana State.

  7. ISU may be out of respect. His uncle Matt Renn is Hall of Fame inductee for bb. However, even before Larry Bird and his team Indiana State has a solid basketball tradition during what is now considered the old days for a smaller school with some solid past players.

  8. If Nancy Pelosi, Doc Fauci and Gov Eric Holcomb and others in leadership authority positions who have been spotted not wearing their masks in social settings…were on big ten football teams big ten football would already be playing. Trump says play ball. They do have things in common. Sometimes they are the same.

    1. Fauci, the only person on that list qualified to render a medical opinion on the subject, hasn’t been in favor of football being played.

  9. U of L has a current NCAA investigation on going that may entail some serious penalties, may be like Romeo when he opted out of U of L and decided to attend IU.

    1. I think he’s very wide open right now. Don’t think Indiana State is going to prevail, but any of the other four could easily be his choice. He may choose IU and it wouldn’t be a surprise, but neither would selecting another school.

  10. From The Daily Hoosier: “As it stands right now, IU’s 2021 class is the most talented group of (football) players the program has secured during the recruiting rankings era.” And I’m optimistic that Allen’s staff will sign three or four more highly rated FB players for the class of 2021, so that we all have something to get excited about after the Big Ten Presidents recover from their collective psychosis.

    I don’t know the facts or statistics, but I recently read that in the U.S., a lot more “children” (i.e., people under the age of 18) will die from the flu this year than will die from COVID-19. Has anyone else seen that? If that’s true, and since young people often develop myocarditis when they get the flu, why are the “authorities” not taking the same precautions to protect “children” from the flu relative to protecting them against COVID-19?

    As for Fauci, let’s keep in mind that he also suggested that the custom of shaking hands should be eliminated from our society so as to prevent the spread of other diseases. People have been shaking hands for thousands of years, and that custom has survived far worse pandemics than COVID-19. At some point, regardless of how scientifically accurate these ideas are, they are nonetheless, absurd.

  11. It seems as though to many so called intellects (those who think they are intelligent or have let their intellect make their minds/brains obscured) and old people having contentment in playing games with lives regarding rest of society. It’s like they get high from it.

  12. T. I totally agree. Described to a t (chuckle chuckle) our current president,

    Jon – What is going on with Jeremy ??

    And if the kids are OK with it. let the season begin. Excited to see (maybe just watch on TV) women’s bb. Sounds like the men’s team will be good . Every year I think the same thing, but maybe…..

    1. Hey Ron,
      I’m still hanging around, maybe not checking in as frequently for now, but I’m keeping busy with high school sports coverage and helping out with our short-handed pagination hub. I did have an IU story on IU men’s soccer player Josh Penn going pro a couple weeks ago, but I never got around to posting it here. Anyhow, I’m keeping an eye on all things IU, but Jon is carrying the limited load there right now.

  13. In case you have been sleeping under a rock the last 24 hours; on 18 ( EIGHTEEN ) taped conversations with Bob Woodward ( All The President’s Men) author…9 hours of interview. TRUMP INTENTIONALLY KNEW IT WAS DEADLY VIRUS THAT IT WAS 5% MORE DEADLY THAN YOUR NORMAL FLU OF 1% OR MAYBE LESS THAN 1%. So NOW WHAT when you KNOW that the President of the United States has INTENTIONALLY MISLED the Public and Public Officials about the Virulence and deadliness of this virus. Trump has put people , social structures, economic structures at high risk and admitted to “never taking responsibility. WHO NOW WILL DECIDE WHATS BEST WHEN (AS HIS SISTER SAID) YOU CANT TRUST ANHYTHING HE SAYS.

  14. If you will lie about the size of a crowd at a (your) ceremony to impress people, then you will lie about anything!!! Once a liar always a liar!!

    1. Trump is all about Trump. He seems to think he is a leader that says follow me and I will lead. Trump talks thru Twitter and puts himself out there. In his mind and (I agree) that his style of leadership was to not put people in a panic mode regarding COVID 19. Medical people and other politicians (many who are not leaders) and other leaders were also involved. However, early on for me it wasn’t hard to see it was a serious situation. Then, things have become socially and culturally panic stricken. Bob Woodard is a non essential obscurity minded individual like many Trump self righteous hypocritical critics. Trump says things, does interviews, talks, tweets, and is a walking talking public figure controversial president. Trump puts himself out there. Speaking of others who mislead or as Woodward May call them LIERS: Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush again, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, all the Kennedy’s …..Roosevelt, Lincoln….thru Washington. Take your pick. Trump is not such a bad guy and lier after all.

      1. Did I miss something?? Mr Woodward criticizing Mr Trump or was he just interviewing Mr Trump. Mr Woodard just released the tapes of Mr Trump giving his own personally opinion. An you are correct Trump is all about Trump, not about the American (asian, white, black or latino) people. Forget humanity, so 200000 people die that is the cost of doing business.

      2. Trump’s biggest issue, by far, is that he’s incapable of telling the truth, and that his dishonesty is such a natural course of conduct for him. Not creating panic is certainly a laudable goal, but he downplayed Covid to preserve his political viability. Again, he’s not honest enough to acknowledge that, and his supporters aren’t smart enough to understand that. He laughs at their lack of intelligence while they fight for seats on his lap. It would be funny except the stakes are real, and high. Hard to believe in a country of 330 million that the two presidential candidates are the best we have.

          1. Sadly, I think the phrase “I had no idea” is common among Trump supporters. They’re easily led and easily fooled. Adult supervision is a must, at all times. They’re that lost and uneducated.

  15. …if you like your plan you can keep your plan…if you like your Doctor you can keep your Doctor, period…

  16. Frightful, indeed. It’s really pulled the country down. Not sure where his supporters will turn but I do feel a bit sorry for many of them.

  17. HC, you beat me to it. Funny how some people go nuts over the President embellishing his estimate of the number of people attending one of his political rallies, but have no problem with his predecessor telling bold faced lies in order to sell his scheme that attempted to transform the world’s best healthcare delivery system into socialized medicine.

    And talk about lies! The American people endured three years of an infinite number of profound lies about Russian collusion, from almost every elected Democrat in Congress as well as their propagandists in the media. Those lies were part of an orchestrated attempt to overturn an election and remove a duly elected President, which is one of the greatest conspiracies in American history. If the majority of the American people have not already concluded that leftists and socialists are on the march, and are willing to say and do anything to get and keep power, then our republic is already lost. Too bad those folks won’t realize, until it is too late, that they were the “useful idiots.”

  18. It’s my understand that the Covid vaccine ready just in time for the election will be delivered via multiple Access Hollywood buses. This will ensure no panic in the streets as we keep lips sealed regarding the major unreported side effect of the vaccine; a hallucination of an Orangutan in a lab coat assaulting you in the privates.

    Trump could replace Fauci and Birx with Dr. Matt Lauer and Dr. Billy Bush….and still fill the stands of a zombie hillbilly rally. Is what it is.

  19. Po, the fever generated from TDS is ghoulish. I see it everytime I wear my MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
    Po here is why the TDS crowd is whining and moaning. 2 weeks ago we went to my oldest Son’s house for a 3 day weekend about 50 miles north of Ann Arbor. Through NE Indiana, NW Ohio and Toledo north to Fenton Michigan we saw many Trump signs. Didn’t count but probably near 3 dozen. 2 for Hiden Biden. I’d have TDS too when it comes at you from both directions.

    1. The President certainly has fooled a number of people. I’m no fan of Biden and lean pretty far to the right, at least fiscally, but DT is a liar and a horrible leader who’s preyed on the gullible of our country. It’s really unfortunate.

  20. BTW Trump also knew IN MARCH that children were equally susceptible to contracting Covid-19; in August in his PUSH to open schools said “children were practically immune to the virus”…Woodward sits down for interview on 60 mins. This Sunday along with some taped recordings and also Woodward reports Trump would call HIM at night to continue with interview. So as you watch the school bus come to pick up your children/grandchildren realize that President of the USA intentionally LIED about the virulence of Covid-19. BTW 190,000 dead; 6+ million cases.

  21. As Joe Biden walks around in the dark with a lighted candle only to catch Kamala Harris on fire. Then, Bernie Sanders grabs what he thinks is a can of water throwIng it on the fire that actually is a can of gas burning up all 3 of them. This happens while AOC employees her $700,00 consultant husband to speak at her slumber party at one of Bernie’s homes.
    Though a lifeguard and football player Joe Biden received draft deferment for asthma as Trump, Bush and many wealthy connections along with others received draft deferments. Take the word fair out of the dictionary. Life is not fair.

  22. Not AOC husband. AOC has boyfriend. It was OMAR paid her new husband’s Consulting firm $800000 on her political salary.

  23. Back to the subject of sports, the following is from The Daily Hoosier. “Steelers GM: We’ll draft a prospect who played in 2020 over one who didn’t.”

    Notice he did not say 2020/2021 or “within the next 10 months. He said 2020, as in this fall.

    Great job, Big Ten Presidents! Your cowardice and political bias has jeopardized the professional futures of dozens of your student athletes, and especially those that need the opportunities the most. In some cases, the Big Ten’s illustrious leaders may have cost some Big Ten FB players hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! I hope every one of the Presidents that voted to postpone the Big Ten FB season is run off their respective campuses within the next 12 months.

  24. HC, I am still amazed that so many people actually believe what they hear and read from major media outlets, espcially in the last fews months before a Presidential election. I am amazed that they are unaware of the incredible bias that infects the leftists who run these major media organizations or fail to realize how desperate those inside the swap are to get rid of DT. Look back over what has happened in the past four years, even before he was inaugurated. Look at the unprecedented attacks against an elected U.S. President. Look and the conspiracies between the News Media and the swamp operators. Look at all the lies that they told.

    The bottom line to me is that a people will get the government they deserve. If you like the way Portland, Chicago, Seattle and NYC look right now, or if you believe California is still a successful state, then you’ll be delighted with how the USA looks after four years of Kamala Harris’ administration. Joe Biden may get elected, but he won’t survive a year in office. Harris and the majority of the cabinet will invoke the 25th amendment due to Biden’s obvious incapacity to do the job. Biden as President would be a true existential threat to the security of the USA. The man is obviously suffering from dementia and anyone with eyes and ears can see it. But some people hate DT so much, they are willing to cut their nose to spite their face and jeopardize their own futures.

    1. “The bottom line to me is that a people will get the government they deserve.” Exactly. Which is why we are led by someone whose most successful pre-White House gig (six bankruptcies will certainly knock you out of the real estate biz) was running a reality TV show.

  25. Trump “trumps” Biden’s acuity by passing a cognitive test where he could identify a giraffe. Trump quoted as saying “It was a stroke……….of luck.”

    And now, in the ultimate deflection, it was up to a panic attack of Bob Woodward to convince the country of the eminent threat of Covid. Bob Woodward was the China virus ‘Deep Throat’…? Or was it ‘Soar Throat?’

  26. “Gopher Athletics is cutting men’s track and field (indoor and outdoor), men’s tennis and men’s gymnastics as a result of “future sustainability issues, both financial and Title IX related.”

    Wow, a lot of male athletes and Athletic Department employees at MN are getting screwed because of the Big Ten President’s decision to cancel FB this fall. No mention of any cuts to women’s athletic programs thanks to Title IX.

    I can’t begin to imagine how devastating this is for the student-athletes who will lose their scholarships and be forced to either transfer or stop competing altogether. This may cost them the opportunity to complete their degrees. Just like children in many public schools and their parents, the politically driven decisions are creating carnage throughout the country. I hope the people wake up, realize what’s going on and hold the perpetrators accountable. But I doubt it, because too many U.S. citizens have been dumbed down by public education and big news media over the last four decades.

  27. At least the affected student athletes won’t lose their scholarships.

    “We will also continue to honor all existing scholarships for individuals who choose to complete their undergraduate degree at Minnesota, while still offering them access to academic advising, sports psychology and necessary access to athletic medicine.”

  28. Though he said he didn’t know the exact percentage, LSU Football coach Ed Orgeron said that “most of our players” have caught the coronavirus.

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