College Sports in the COVID-19 Era

Jeff Long, Jim Sterk, Steve Wieberg
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
6:30 pm

As America’s major spectator sports plot a return from their COVID-19-induced hiatus, reactions range from elation to apprehension to … why?

Nowhere, perhaps, is that restart more complicated than it is in college athletics, where passions run deep but the ties to higher education must be weighed and those on the playing field, at some presumed degree of risk, aren’t getting paid. Football is the tradition-rich, big-money bellwether, and its season is scheduled to kick off in a little more than two months. Can it? And in what form. Will there be cheering fans and all the pageantry the games typically entail or no tailgating, no marching bands, and tens upon tens of thousands of empty, quiet seats?

Officials say health and safety are primary. But, as in real life, there are strong economic pressures and pulls.

In a special online presentation, University of Missouri Athletics Director Jim Sterk and Kansas AD Jeff Long examine the coronavirus-related issues facing sports in general and, more specifically, the questions and challenges unique to college sports. They look, too, at our nation's current civil unrest and a rising proclivity among athletes to call out racial inequity and injustice. It is a time of new social reckoning for programs across the country.

The Library’s Steve Wieberg, a former USA Today reporter who wrote extensively about college athletics, moderates the discussion, which also will touch on a scheduled resumption of the storied MU-KU rivalry after eight years of estrangement. Watch the online presentation live at