Nebraska already has between 150 and 175 student-athletes on campus, athletic director Bill Moos said on his monthly radio show Tuesday.
More will filter in next week, in accordance with the NCAA Division-I council’s ruling to green light voluntary workouts starting June 1.
Moos said the athletic department is ready for return of sports within its facilities, and even lobbied to keep students on campus in the spring.
“I was taking the stance with the Big Ten that the safest place for our student-athletes is Lincoln, Nebraska, and the safest place in Lincoln is to be in our facilities,” Moos said.
Upon arrival next week, the influx of student-athletes will be quarantined for 48 hours, then tested for COVID-19. If they are cleared, they will be able to participate in the voluntary workouts.
“Per the mandate of the Governor, we have to be in groups of 10 or less, and that includes the supervisors in the weight room or on the fields,” Moos said.
In other words, the basketball teams can’t get a full-team workout with 13 scholarship players. The football team can’t field a full offensive or defensive drill. Most workouts will likely be in the weight room in rotations.
Workouts can continue up until June 30. After that, Moos isn’t sure what the future holds. That includes the upcoming football season.
Throughout the hour-long interview on Sports Nightly, Moos preached optimism with patience and uncertainty. Moos said he continues be hopeful about the chance of a full football season, but isn’t sure if fans will be able to attend. Same goes for volleyball matches and basketball games.
“How do you manage fans? What is the right number? How do you get them in? How do you get them out? Restrooms, concessions, masks, no mask? All these questions have got to have solid answers before we go forward,” Moos said. “We do need to be patient. We need to fold these things back in the proper manner.”
However, Nebraska is pushing hard to bring fans into stadiums. The athletic department’s 2019 financial report showed $35 million in revenue from seven home football games. That helps fund the rest of the sports departments.
There’s also the sell out streak, which fans and Moos alike are cognizant of. If fans are allowed in at all, Moos assured that the prized sell out streak will be safe. If Nebraska can only allow 30,000 fans into the stadium, and 30,000 show up, that’ll be considered a sell out, Moos said.
“We’re very concerned about the safety of our fans, but if we feel and our university and state authorities feel its safe, then I feel we should go to the max of whatever is allowable and that’ll preserve the sellout,” Moos said. “The sell out streak is alive and well.”
Moos said plans for the new $155 million football facility should be finalized in the next week or two. The groundbreaking for the project, which will be in the shadow of Memorial Stadium, was supposed to be in June, but was delayed due to the ongoing pandemic. After plans are finalized, they’ll wait for the go-ahead.
“We’re gonna pause until we feel comfortable that the Chancellor and President feel we can go forward,” Moos said. “We will be on the launching pad. As you’re aware, our contractors are all selected and the schedule is in place, it’s just when we do get into the starting blocks.”
Moos said he’s done Zoom meetings with almost 1,000 key donors.
“They have been wonderful. Our level of support has not taken a dip,” Moos said.
Other notes from Moos’ time on the air:
>> Moos used to be “strictly opposed” to a one-time transfer rule. That is no more.
“I’ve come around to a one-time transfer being acceptable,” Moos said. “When the dust all settles, we’re really in this for a student-athletes and their experiences.”
Head coaches across football and basketball are split on the potential one-time transfer rule. Head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg has said he hopes a rule goes in place to replace the current waiver operation, which bit Nebraska last season.
The NCAA will vote on that potential rule change in January of 2021.
>> Nebraska will begin bringing back staff in the athletics offices slowly. No more than one-third of the building can be in the offices at one time, Moos said.
“We need to be prepared for a number of difference scenarios that we just don’t know what they’re gonna be now,” Moos said. But we will be ready, my staff will be set, our student-athletes will be trained and ready to compete. It’s just a matter of when we can.”