It was an historic week that nobody could have foreseen. Though the NCAA was aware of the presence of the novel coronavirus out of China since January and had sent information to the athletics community, after a crazy week, Lehigh had announced they were going to all-online classes, and by the end of the week all spring sports and remaining NCAA competitions had been cancelled.
The Lehigh football team was one of the victims.
The Mountain Hawks had been scheduled to start their spring football session on March 19th, but like all other competitions, it was cancelled.
“All on-campus activities have been cancelled for the rest of the semester,” Lehigh head coach Tom Gilmore told me. “These decisions are unprecedented in response to unprecedented circumstances. No one wants to see any of this happen, but these decisions are being made with the health and safety of everyone involved in mind as well as that of the general population.”
I asked Gilmore what Lehigh football’s specific challenges are during this suspension of official activity.
“With everyone basically in the same situation, I think it is important that our response makes the best out of these circumstances,” he said. “While we can’t work out, practice or meet together, we can still design activities to make the most of this time. We can still keep in touch with the players and they can still be doing workouts at home. We will have to design their training based on what facilities are still accessible in their home areas.
“We can also perform recruiting activities like evaluating video, doing character references by phone and evaluating academic credentials. We can build our position lists and have everything ready to go if and when the NCAA permits us to go on the road to do evaluations.”
One thing that might not seem like a big deal is access to the campus.
“We are planning on coordinating our efforts early this week with several plans based on the possible scenarios that may come up,” he told me. “At the present time, we are being told that we can access our offices and facilities, so we will plan on utilizing them while making plans in the event that changes. Once we get some things organized, we can perform may duties remotely.
“But the biggest issue right now is insuring the health and safety of all of our students and staff. Once we assess how we can best do that under the present circumstances, we must be innovative in our approach to this challenging environment in order to be as productive as possible and come out of this in the strongest possible position for the future. “
Chuck has been writing about Lehigh football since the dawn of the internet, or perhaps it only seems like it. He’s executive editor of the College Sports Journal and has also written a book, The Rivalry: How Two Schools Started the Most Played College Football Series.
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