BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Auburn athletics director Allen Greene met with the media Friday via teleconference. Greene provided insight into the Auburn athletics department operations amid the coronavirus outbreak. Among the various topics discussed, Greene said the Tiger’s plan for a standalone football facility continue.
“Right now we are full steam ahead on the football facility. Obviously, as things change on our campus and in our country and around the world, we’ll audible as we see fit, but we have been given the directive to move forward full steam ahead,” Greene said. Green added that the site for the facility has yet to be determined, but a decision should be made within a month’s time.
Green also discussed the state of the upcoming college football season, how extended NCAA eligibility impacts university finances, Auburn coaches and staff members operation during the coronavirus outbreak, and other athletics concerns. See his responses below:
On crisis in the country: The crisis, broadly speaking, is the epitome of teamwork. Our athletics department talks a lot about caring about someone else’s success more than your own. This is that. This is ‘we over me’ in a greater context. The success in battling this crisis can only be achieved by all of us pulling on the same rope at the same time with the same sense of urgency.
On athletics budget impacted by coronavirus: That’s something that we have been discussing in terms of broader picture. We do not have a concrete answer on the budget impact, I think we all know and are preparing for some sort of a budget impact but there still a lot to unfold.
On the status of the regular college football season and financial concerns: I’ll kind of refer to Greg Sankey’s comments, he mentioned about being optimistic about playing the upcoming football season and all sports, getting back to some sort of normalcy. I do think that we have to have some conversations about what the world would look like if there wasn’t a football season, even though we are planning on playing one. Obviously if there wasn’t a football season, that would be a sizable financial impact, to what degree uncertain, but there would definitely be a sizable financial impact if we did not have a football season.
On conversations with the men’s basketball program as events were being cancelled: As decisions were being made about the SEC men’s basketball tournament, things were happening very quickly and the only person I was able to speak with was Coach Pearl and give him a heads up on where we were, which he and I had been communicating a couple times a day so that we could be updated. I did not get a chance to talk to the team and it just so happened that as I was walking back to the hotel as they were loading the bus heading to the airport. I just jumped on the bus and apologized to them about the circumstances and the events, but also tried to help them realize and recognize their frustrations and confusion, all the range of emotions that young people will go through in hearing this type of news. And just said that our job is to support them. And just said that our job is to support them there’s going to be a lot more questions than answers. But most importantly, just knowing that they are surrounded by people who care for them and to continue to utilize those people to help them navigate through these uncharted waters.
On the NCAA extensions of eligibility for student-athletes with seasons cut short due to coronavirus: I think that’s a topic that many of us in leadership roles and our coaches are having that discussion. It’s really, really hard to identify where we are going to go. I think there is arguments that when someone’s season has not been completed, there ought to be some consideration for additional eligibility, whether that is seniors – or freshman through seniors – I think is still TBD. It is one of those circumstances where you want to do what is in the best interest of the athletes, understanding that we don’t have financial clarity, you want to try to make that decision without thinking about finances, but you also have to recognize that there is some financial impact. But I think what’s going to drive the decision making from the NCAA and from a campus perspective is doing what’s in the best interest of the young people.
On whether Auburn student-athletes have tested positive for coronavirus: None of our student athletes have been directly affected, or have had the coronavirus, or have even been tested or shown symptoms, to my knowledge. The way I’m keeping up with our student athletes and their health is through our medical professionals and through their coaches. We have conversations with our coaches on a daily basis about a wide variety of things so we can all remain in the loop.
On status of other construction projects on campus: As of right now there is no changing of the timeline. If we defer to our university position on capital projects they are still moving forward. Again things change so rapidly that it’s hard to tell what tomorrow is going to bring. But we’ll continue to press forward as long as were able to.
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