Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference, took to the airwaves on ESPN Radio to discuss the conference’s watershed decision to shift their fall sports schedule to the spring on Sunday afternoon, making an appearance on “Sunday Morning” with Myron Metcalf and Matt Schick.
Steinbrecher once again reiterated the decision was based on player safety, and said that at this time there are “simply too many unknowns with the virus,” including concerns about short-and-long term cardiac issues for those who contract the illness, which affected the conference’s opinion on playing a fall season.
“When we play sports, when we send our sons and daughters out there—whatever the sport is—you kind of know what the risks are,” Steinbrecher opined. “In this sport, I could hurt my shoulder, or my elbow, or my knee or things. We’re dealing with something we still don’t completely understand what the risks are if you contract it.”
Steinbrecher said he talked to medical professionals about the issue and that it was their diagnosis that there was no way the season could continue safely.
When asked by Metcalf about the conference’s confidence about making such a monumental move, Steinbrecher admitted that the league was only in the beginning stages of planning, and that there would have to be progress made in regards to fighting the spread of coronavirus.
Steinbrecher did suggest that a spring schedule would likely look fairly truncated, saying “no one could envision a 12-game season in the spring and a 12-game season in the fall.” Steinbrecher also said the league would look at the upcoming seasons in a 12-month window, and will solicit advice from adminstrators, coaches, student-athletes and medical staff in order to find something workable.
The question on everyone’s mind, how the MAC felt about the NCAA’s leadership, was eventually asked by Schick.
“The NCAA, particularly in football, but in all regular season competition, it’s really left to the conferences, and so, there you are” Steinbrecher responded. “In a perfect world, all of FBS, all of FCS, or even all of Divison I might have moved as a unit. But that’s not necessarily the way works. Ultimately, the Board of Governors made the determination that each divsion should be making its own determinations.”
Metcalf followed up, asking Steinbrecher what Power Five programs will have to wrestle with moving forward.
“Well, we’re all in the same place,” Steibrecher said. “We were prepared to move forward with testing plans... but we’re not going to test our way out of this. It still gets down to the fundamental issue of what you now about the virus.”
Steinbrecher went on to say he had faith in fellow conferences to figure out the decisons which were in the best interest of their respective student-athletes, and that “we’ll see where various people end up.” Steinbrecher mentioned “a number” of commissioners had reached out to him and were “very supportive... and appreciative” of the decision.
When asked about if the Big Ten and SEC’s decision to shift to conference-only games affected the MAC’s decision on postponing the season, Steinbrecher admitted it was a significant aspect of the discussions.
“Given the conversations we had in our room, I believe we would [have tried for a fall season],” Steinbrecher said. “I have said, and it’s flat-out the truth, it’s naive to think you’re not cognizant of the financial ramifications of the decisions you make. But this wasn’t a dollars-and-cents decision, this was a health and well-being decision.”
Steinbrecher also touched upon his personal emotions surrounding the decision, and the #MACUNITED movement which launched Saturday afternoon, during the interview.
You can hear the interview in its entirety below, or by clicking on this link: