FAYETTEVILLE — Some fans have expressed hope the baseball and other teams in spring sports can resume play if the suspension due to the coronavirus is lifted after April 15.
However, Arkansas vice-chancellor and director of athletics Hunter Yurachek stated Friday evening it’s not that simple.
“As far as our spring sports and those championships, I think it’s still very much up in the air, any decisions on how to proceed,” Yurachek said. “I will tell you I think it will be extremely challenging for our student-athletes and our coaches after taking a month off to quickly start a season back up again. So you’ve got to think just the timing of that, if we are able to start practicing against some time after April 15 how many weeks of preparation you need to get ready to start a season again. It’s gonna be a challenge. Read into that what you will. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us, but that’s still up in the air.”
With the University of Arkansas going to on-line classes and no meetings or practices allowed for the athletes in spring sports they are free to go home if they choose.
“We have encouraged our student athletes and their families to make decisions that are in their best interests,” Yurachek said. “At this point, again, it’s not about them being student-athletes here, it’s about them personally. So we’ve encouraged them. We’lll send out a letter later today to the parents of our student-athletes that they make the decision for them and their family that they believe is in the best interest of the student.
“For some of our student-athletes, their best interests may be to stay here on campus in the residence halls or in their own apartments they may have off campus. But we want families to make that decision. I don’t want that burden to make that decision for them. We’re at a point where our student-athletes and their families need to make those decisions.”
Yurachek admitted the morale for student-athletes isn’t good considering the way the seasons halted for some sports without a chance to play for a championship.
“They’re struggling,” Yurachek said. “Our student-athletes, not only here at the University of Arkansas, but across the country are struggling. Especially seniors. You had some seniors that were prepared to compete for Southeastern Conference championships. Some that had trained very hard to compete for national championships. And that’s been taken away from them.
“I’m not sure as I walked around the Jones Center today, that it’s sunk in for most of our student-athletes yet, that realism that their careers, especially if your’e a senior, may have come to an abrupt ending. And that is the case if you’re in the sports of basketball or swimming or gymnastics. It may not be the case for our spring sports but that’s yet to be determined.”
Arkansas’ girls were slated to participate in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but all basketball has been canceled. The boys won their only game in the SEC Tournament and were likely to get at least a bid to the NIT.