On Friday afternoon, Fresno State Athletic Director Terry Tumey and football head coach Kalen Deboer held a news conference addressing the return of Bulldog football.
Tumey thanked the leadership of the Fresno State Administration and Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro for their help during “during this most difficult and uncertain time.”
Castro, who was not a part of today’s press conference, released a statement via Twitter.
“Fresno State football is the touchstone of decades of Bulldog pride throughout the Central Valley, and I am delighted that our student-athletes will be able to compete this fall in modified season, pending final approval from our local county health department and the California State University system,” Castro said.
Last week, Castro announced Fresno State had submitted a plan to local, county and state governments for student-athletes to return.
Some details of the plan were revealed by Tumey as the plan focused on mitigation efforts, protocol efforts in regards to personal protective equipment (PPE), safety protocols and facilities in order to abide by CDC guidelines.
The State of California, Fresno County, the City of Fresno and the California State University system still need to approve Fresno State’s proposed plan to allow clearance for Fresno State to begin practicing and play their season.
No update was given on where that plan currently stands on approval.
While the team waits for approval, Deboer confirmed that the team has already begun conditioning and walkthroughs with two-thirds of the team, which according to Deboer is about 60-plus student-athletes.
More members of the team will be joining soon once they receive approval and clear quarantine protocols.
Deboer feels comfortable in regards to the short amount of time Fresno State football has to prepare for the 8-game season.
“One thing this reminds me of a little bit is those years, many years back, when I was coaching, small college football, and you had two weeks of fall camp and one week to get ready for a game.
For other fall sports, they are still following and operating under the guidelines set forth by the MW conference and the NCAA. Tumey hopes that those sports “come to fruition” and compete in the spring.
When asked about not having fans in the stands at Bulldog stadium this year and what are the potential losses money-wise is, Tumey reiterated that the health and safety of Fresno State’s student-athletes are the most important piece of the puzzle.”
“Making money is the last thing we are considering…we get into a slippery slope when we constantly looking at student-athletes and try to monetize them,” Tumey said. “What our concentration is going to be on is to make sure we have a safe environment for these student-athletes to perform and go through the educational process.”
Tumey was also asked if their decision to not bring back student-athletes and stay that way throughout the summer. He and Deboer both felt that it was the right decision because, at that time, there wasn’t as much information in regards to protecting the student-athletes and how to move forward with a season.
Tumey also cited that Fresno County specifically was in a “different space than other parts of the country and other parts of California.” According to the Fresno County COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, Fresno County began to see another upward trend of COVID-19 cases by mid-June, when new positive cases jumped from double digits to triple digits.
A few weeks before, Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions and moved California into stage two of reopening.
“We’re emphasizing a couple of things. One’s always going to be the toughness of Bulldog football,” Deboer said. “We’ve weathered some storms here, and I’m sure there’ll be more, but the toughness and grit that this team has and this program has always had is something that’s going to always exemplify how we handle the situations that come our way.”