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Bill Beekman on Big Ten decision to restart fall football

(WILX)
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 3:59 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 5:17 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan State University Athletic Director Bill Beekman hosted a Zoom press conference to address the fact that The Big Ten has changed strategy and will now proceed with a condensed fall football season. He covered a range of topics that are on the minds of fans and family of MSU players.

Early on he was asked about potential heart issues that can be a side effect of COVID-19 infection- a serious concern for anyone but in particular for athletes.

Regarding the heart issues Beekman he stressed that the University would be taking every possible precaution, but added, “I’m not sure if anybody at this point knows the long-term effects.”

Part of those precautions are players taking personal responsibility for following guidelines, orders, staying away form large gatherings and parties.

He said, “I do think that it’s going to be very, very critical that our student-athletes, our coaches, everybody around our team are following the rules.”

Beekman also stressed that they are preparing for the possibility of interruptions during season. He said, “In a lot of ways, this is the beginning of a race. It’s not the end of the race.”

He’s hopeful quick turnaround time for tests will provide clarity.

One strange result of the unique, nine-game schedule, will be the lack of a bye week, and that team quarantines could affect the schedule.

Beekman said, “It’s probably inevitable that of the 14 teams, there will be a time one of the teams can’t play a week or more.”

Perhaps most consequential to the school in the long term are the finances. MSU had already made significant cutbacks in anticipation of no fall season, and with this sudden change it is now on track to at least break even, even with no fans permitted in the stands, according to Beekman.

While fans in the stands might add a few more dollars in the books, it would still be a risk during a pandemic. Beekman said having fans at games at some point is “lowest consideration on the list,” stressing that health and safety are more important. He pointed out that MSU hopes to accommodate families of MSU players and visiting players first - if any spectators are allowed at any point during the season.

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