BOONE — Appalachian State Athletic Director Doug Gillin is determined to make sure the App State athletic department is ready for the 2020 football season to begin.
After the NCAA shut down athletic activities in March because of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Gillin is still unsure when that might be. Gillin would like to see Appalachian State opens its football season Sept. 5 at home against Morgan State, but that might not be possible.
“We remain hopeful and we’re planning on playing on Sept. 5 against Morgan State,” Gillin said. “With that, our plans are in place and we want to make sure that we’re ready when we get approval from university leadership, from state leadership, our system leadership in terms of when we can go.”
Gillin said the football program would need six weeks of conditioning and workouts with the coaching staff to get ready for the season.
“Our plan is to get approval from everybody I’ve mentioned and from health professionals and guidance and part of that plan first and foremost is how do we bring them back safely?” Gillin added. “How do we work that into the community at large and our university community safely? Those are the plans we’re working on right now.”
Gillin said the play thus far does not include isolating student-athletes of any sports into any type of athletic dorm. Appalachian State student-athletes live both on campus and in off-campus housing. The university would be in charge of how many athletes would receive on-campus housing.
Gillin said season ticket sales for football are at 80 percent of 2019 ticket sales despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Gillin also said the Yosef Club donations are almost to 2019 levels, and the new end zone seats are 60 percent sold, which Gillin said was the goal at this time.
Gillin said the athletic office is not far enough in its plans to decide who would get to see the games in person should social distancing guidelines still be in place.
“Our hope is to get to September and be kicking off with people in the stands,” Gillin said. “Our hope that is we are far enough along, anybody who wants to come to the game will be coming to the game.”
Gillin said his staff has discussed contingencies, such as starting the season later in the fall.
“Since we’ve been in this pandemic over the past six weeks, you’ve heard everything from starting on time to starting Nov. 1 to playing in the spring semester to playing conference games only,” Gillin said. “We are part of those conversations and we’ve had those conversations, but the option we’re focused on is starting the season on time with fans and students in the stands playing on Sept. 5. We have looked at plans for all different scenarios.”
Gillin said the athletic department has time to change its plans if needed.
“Part of the good news is that we’re still having this conversation on May 15,” he said. “We have three and a half months left before we would have to play a football game and probably three months left before we could put athletes on campus. So, we’ve got some time.”