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University of Tennessee Chancellor meets with football team

(Photo courtesy of UTK Chancellor Donde Plowman’s Twitter)

In the wake of the Big 10 reportedly moving to cancel its 2020 football season, University of Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman met with Jeremy Pruitt’s football team on Monday afternoon, Plowman shared on Twitter.

“This afternoon, I met with out football team and staff to have an open conversation about playing football this fall,” Plowman wrote. “At the end of our discussion, I asked if they wanted to play football and the answer was a resounding YES.

“This group of student-athletes have worked hard to prepare for the season amidst detailed and strict healthy and safety protocols. I can’t wait to see them on the field in Neyland Stadium.”

Plowman’s meeting with the team comes following reports on Sunday night that the Big 10 was moving to cancel the upcoming season, and that the league held a meeting with other Power 5 commissioners to see who would follow.

No major decisions were made on Sunday night, but ESPN reported that several Power 5 conference commissioners talked about trying to collaborate if their respective presidents do decide to cancel or postpone fall sports. Sources told ESPN that a vast majority of Big Ten presidents have indicated that they would vote to postpone football season, hopefully to the spring. A Big Ten official confirmed to ESPN that no official vote took place during Saturday’s meeting.

Following Sunday night’s report, ESPN reported on Monday that the Pac-12 CEO group, made up of one president or chancellor from each of the conference’s 12 universities, will meet Tuesday and is expected to discuss and vote on how to proceed with the 2020 football season. The growing sense around the conference is that it is highly unlikely the Pac-12 will move forward with a fall season amid concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic and will look to play in the spring, if possible, sources told ESPN. An official decision will not come prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey addressed the recent developments around college football on Twitter Monday morning.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,'” Sankey wrote. “The SEC has been deliberate at each step since March…slowed return to practice…delayed 1st game to respect start of fall semester….. Developed testing protocols…

“We know concerns remain. We have never had a (football) season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day, and will continue to do so…every day.”

The SEC is scheduled to begin its 10-game conference-only schedule Sept. 26. Fall camp for the Vols is slated to begin a week from today, Aug. 17.

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