Tennessee Among Several SEC Schools Coming Back To Campus This Fall

Posted on May 7, 2020 - Last Updated on May 8, 2020

The University of Tennessee campus reopening is a crucial step if there is to be any Volunteer football this fall. It’s far from a guarantee that will happen. Even if it does, it may not resemble the circumstances of previous years.

Many questions remain about what college football could look like amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. One thing is certain, however. If students aren’t on campus taking classes in person, there won’t be any games.

Details on the Tennessee campus reopening

UT President Randy Boyd announced the decision to bring students back on Wednesday. The plan is to resume operations as normally as possible. Some things will be different, even in the best-case scenario.

The press release was mum on exactly what measures Tennessee will take to maximize safety. Still, she stated that the on-campus experience would be different as compared to what it looked like in previous years. In addition, the university is preparing contingency plans.

One of those plans will provide protocols for moving back to online classes after reopening campus. Another will be in place if plans to reopen campus become impractical.

Either way, what’s clear is that Tennessee’s football team will only play games if students are physically on campus taking classes. That’s all that’s certain right now, unfortunately.

Return to campus a positive sign for college football season

All NCAA-member institutions, like Tennessee, would be hard-pressed to open back up student athletics without having classes in session. Certainly, Volunteer football is a massive moneymaker for the school, but, in theory, football is an extracurricular activity, and school is supposed to be the top priority.

Accordingly, Tennessee has to bring as much of its student body back on campus as possible. If Tennessee just brings back its football players, the whole idea of student-athletes falls apart.

Even if Tennessee does successfully reopen campus, that’s no guarantee that the next college football season will be business as normal, however. There are several different scenarios still in play right now.

Among them is the possibility of playing games without fans physically in attendance.

Another possible issue is that some of Tennessee’s scheduled opponents could be operating under different circumstances. Local and state governments have a large role to play in whether college football programs can resume operations and to what extent. So far, several SEC schools have committed to resuming the fall semester on campus, including: 

  • South Carolina
  • Florida
  • Alabama
  • LSU
  • Kentucky
  • Ole Miss

One notable hold out is Vanderbilt in Nashville. No word yet on the school’s plans for the fall semester.

For bettors, this is all relevant information. That’s the case now, and as the calendar turns closer to the fall, users of future Tennessee legal online sportsbooks need to monitor this situation.

The implications for TN legal sports betting app users

Although no sportsbook operators are yet licensed to offer wagers in TN, that’s an inevitability at this point. The TN Lottery finalized regulations and is accepting applications for operators.

As soon as operators are actually live, it’s a foregone conclusion that they will have college football futures markets available. Bettors should consider those wagers with a clear head.

In this situation, that means knowing the house rules of the particular sportsbook. Bettors should never just assume that the sportsbook will cancel bets and return wagers if something happens to affect the events.

Most legal sportsbook operators post their policies within the apps. For bettors who may still feel uncertain after reviewing those, they have customer service departments dedicated to such issues.

This is one area in which it never hurts to ask before putting your money down. While Tennessee planning to reopen its campus is a positive sign, this situation is still far from being out of the woods.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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