HUNTINGTON — As of now, Marshall University has not had any football players opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19-related concerns.
That didn’t keep Marshall football coach Doc Holliday from speaking out on the matter this week, though.
With many players nationally electing to opt out as more information becomes available about COVID-19, Holliday said he and athletic director Mike Hamrick have had talks with the team about the scenario and what it means for their futures.
“Any decision that is made, we’re going to support 100%,” Holliday said. “These kids have been told that. These kids have been told that, if that’s what they would decide to do, then we will honor their scholarship.”
Those talks from Marshall’s administration came from the beginning of players returning to campus for voluntary workouts in June, but those have been cemented amid NCAA legislation recently that protected student-athletes.
Among those specific requirements, the NCAA gave student-athletes the choice to opt-out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns without penalty.
Schools were also not allowed to require waivers for athletics participation, which some had done initially, and schools must also cover related COVID-19 medical expenses for student-athletes to prevent out-of-pocket expenses for the athlete and their families.
That financial liability toward COVID-19-related care for student-athletes has seemed to turn the tide of prospects of a college football season in recent days.
On Saturday morning, the Mid-American Conference announced that there would be no fall football, citing player health and safety issues. However, several reports also cited financial burdens with testing and care, coupled with lost revenue from non-conference games as a collective for the MAC’s decision to push football season toward the spring.
This weekend, there was also buzz that the Big Ten could also decide to opt out of the 2020 fall football season, which could start a domino effect within the sport.
For now, however, Holliday made it clear that his team would move forward with its season while respecting the individual players’ decisions in regards to their own decision of whether to play or not play in 2020.
“We will support them. That’s the way it is, and you see more and more of that happening. We hope it doesn’t happen, but if somebody would decide to make that decision and thought that was best for them, their family or whatever, then we would support them 100 percent.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys that love ball, like everybody else does. We’ll take it one day at a time. Fortunately for us at this point, we haven’t had that.”