The Air Force Academy plans to welcome the incoming freshman class for basic training in June, while also holding some academic and airmanship programs.
Basic training is administered by cadets in the upper classes. Academic and airmanship programs are populated by cadets. And where there are cadets, there are cadet-athletes.
Though no dates have been announced for the summer programs, athletic director Nathan Pine on Monday acknowledged that the return of academy activity “will, in turn, present opportunities for our cadet-athletes to be engaged on campus this summer and begin some lifting and conditioning in preparation for the 2020-21 academic year.”
Pine addressed the issue in a letter to fans Monday.
“These programs will all certainly look somewhat different from years past as they will adhere to public health and safety guidelines,” Pine wrote. “The academy is also working into a staggered return to work schedule for staff. While some mission elements have already started this process along with a number of the essential athletics staff, the majority of athletics is working effectively remotely and will target more return to work in the office starting in June.”
There has already been a flurry of reopenings around the academy, albeit with limitations and specific instructions for social distancing while the base itself remains closed to the public. Eisenhower Golf Course opened May 1, while the Community Center Fitness Center was among several spots to open May 11 for 10th Force Support squadron services.
According to a new release posted Monday to Air Force’s official website, academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria said work is being done to establish quarantine guidance, testing and restriction-of-movement policies that match guidelines and policies of the Defense Department and Colorado.
“We’re in the planning stages but fully confident we can safely prepare for the arrival of our latest class while continuing to keep our community safe,” Silveria said.
While details around college sports remain unknown as policy around the coronavirus evolves, Air Force’s planned reopening could potentially allow it to keep pace with other programs. The 40-member NCAA Division I Council is expected to vote Wednesday on the status of a nationwide ban on on-campus activities that is set to expire May 31. If the ban is lifted, schools could begin bringing athletes back June 1.
While Air Force is announcing plans to bring students back, last week the California State University system — including Mountain West members Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State — announced it will hold classes remotely in the fall. This doesn’t necessarily mean those schools won’t be able to compete, as NCAA President Mark Emmert said recently that campuses must be open “in one fashion or another” in order to have sports this fall.
“We’re going to plan that we are going to play our football opener as scheduled,” San Diego State athletic director John David Wicker told The Associated Press. “I don’t think anyone will be able to answer that question with 100% certainty, but we’re going to plan.
“Again, I think we’re going to play our schedule. We have contracts. One of the hard things is, 41 states have an FBS team in their state. Are all 41 states going to be in the same place Aug. 29 or Sept. 5? Those are the types of questions that will have to be addressed as we get closer to the season.”
Air Force’s schedule includes road games at Fresno State and San Jose State in 2020.