Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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20 JUNE/JULY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TODD D. BURLAGE AND PATRICK ENGEL N otre Dame football's date to reconvene on campus might not be entirely at the mercy of an upcoming university decision. Even if Notre Dame decides to keep the rest of its summer school session online — a ruling that will come from president Rev. John Jen- kins May 15, for a semester that runs from June 15 to July 24 — fall sports teams could still be allowed to re- turn to campus and practice, univer- sity vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick said May 5, during a Zoom meeting with media members. "Fall sports teams collecting for purposes of preparing may in fact happen before schools are fully open in a number of places," Swarbrick explained. That, of course, is contingent on if university officials decide to wel- come students back for an in-person fall semester. Without a campus reopening in the fall, football won't start on time. Swarbrick and other Power Five commissioners made that determi- nation after an April conference call with United States vice president Mike Pence. Swarbrick and head coach Brian Kelly said that in order to stay on schedule for an on-time start to the 2020 football season — slated to be- gin Aug. 29 versus Navy in Ireland — the Fighting Irish players need to be gathered on campus, conditioning and training by early or mid-July at the latest. So, if campus remains closed until the start of the fall semester — which is scheduled to commence Aug. 24 — the July timeline that Swarbrick and Kelly are working toward launching football prep doesn't line up with the scholastic calendar. That said, Swarbrick floated the idea that Irish student-athletes could return to campus in July for practice and prep before the general student body arrives in August. "You have to figure out a way to assemble those [student-athletes], to put them in an environment that's safe," Swarbrick said. "Whether it's a residence hall or you make other accommodations to feed them and prepare them for the season." Even with the logistical headaches and great unknowns, Swarbrick in- dicated that preparations for an on- time trip to Ireland for the season opener are still a go. "We're not at a point where we're going to do anything other than pre- pare for it," he explained. "Having said that, we recognize the rest, and all the things that could happen in the next few weeks and months to cause us to decide that we can't do that." Complicating matters further, re- opening decisions will ultimately fall to individual states, conferences and schools, so what Notre Dame decides is best in Northern Indiana might not match up with what's best for USC in Southern California or Georgia Tech in Atlanta, a couple of 2020 Irish road opponents. "Given the complexities of dif- ferent state regulations or schools opening," Swarbrick said, "it makes schedule building and figuring out how to evaluate what we'll have to do at the end of the day in the 2020 football season incredibly complex at this point." Notre Dame has not announced a decision date on whether to reopen for the fall semester. That ruling will Uncertain Times Coronavirus chaos leaves lingering questions for Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick Swarbrick is facing some tough financial decisions in the months to come. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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