University of Oklahoma Planning For In-Person Classes This Fall Opens The Door For College Sports

The University of Oklahoma interim president on Friday said all three of its campuses are planning for a return of students to campus this fall for in-person classes. The news could create a pathway for college football and all other sports to be played this fall as well.

OU Interim President Joseph Harroz wrote a letter to the Sooner community that outlines the school's intentions to reopen for students, teachers and administration, and for things to almost be back to normal in a few months.

"We are acutely aware of the certain challenges COVID-19 will present as we pursue this goal and are planning to address the issues proactively and creatively. We are prepared to adapt instructional and housing models as appropriate to protect our community and still offer the life-changing, in-person OU experience," Harroz wrote, according to KOCO 5.

"Flexibility will be a guiding principle as we navigate the coming months, and we will ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are presented with appropriate options to return to our campuses, keeping their safety top of mind."

Safety precautions that would be considered are:

  • Adapting class schedules
  • Using larger classrooms to practice greater social distancing
  • Enabling the widespread use of masks and other PPE
  • Increased on-campus testing
  • Enhanced cleaning throughout all campuses

"We are fortunate to benefit from the expertise of our own public health and infectious diseases experts, and we are consulting daily with our subject-matter scientists and physicians. Safety precautions will be at the forefront of all campus operations, from the classrooms to the residence halls," Harroz said.

"As we navigate the coming months, the real measure of our success is not that we just get through this pandemic, but that we emerge from it stronger. I am confident that our OU family is up to this task, and I join each of you in eager anticipation of being together again, safely, this fall."

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners helmets are seen prior to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between the LSU Tigers and the Oklahoma Sooners at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It would also mean the school could open a door for college athletics to be back on campus, including fall sports football, volleyball and soccer.

Paul Finebaum of the The Paul Finebaum Show on Friday said it makes sense for colleges and universities to announce their plans this early in order to reopen the campus by fall.

"College football can wait til July 1 to make a decision on the season, but the college to open in the fall can't make that decision late in the summer," Finebaum said.

College athletics came to an abrupt halt on March 12 when the NCAA immediately canceled all winter and spring championships through the end of the school year because of the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. The move came one week before the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, which were also canceled at a moment's notice.

Opening football season back up would also mean trying to jam football stadiums with throngs of fans. Oklahoma Memorial Stadium has a capacity of more than 86,000.