Whether athletes will continue to be able to convene for workouts was unknown, Sayler said. Much will depend on how other programs and conferences proceed.
“I wouldn’t say we’ll be in a complete shutdown,” said Sayler, who also serves as chair of the MAC Council of Director Athletics. “A lot of that will be dictated by how campuses dictate their class situation. The NCAA hasn’t weighed in yet. A lot of that will be dictated at Miami by when we decide when it’s safe to have a higher level of practice.”
Also immediately unknown is the status of the student-athletes themselves. Some may decide to stay at Miami. Some of those may elect to take a redshirt year. Some may try to transfer to schools in conferences that expect to have games and matches.
Sayler left open the possibility of fall sports convening seasons in the spring for some games.
“I personally think it’s very viable,” he said. “Potentially, it could be better for the fans than if fall had happened when you consider the attendance restrictions. The challenge in this part of the country is playing football in February. At this point, it’s all fluid.”
Playing traditionally fall sports in the spring actually could help athletic departments weather the financial hit of not staging events this autumn, he added.
“If fall would have gone on without fans, it would have been a challenging dynamic,” he said. “If you extrapolate this out, let’s say you’re Ohio State and you can do only 20 percent (attendance) in the fall. What if you can do 80 percent in the spring?
“I’m looking forward to having a really busy spring running all sorts of events,” he added. “ESPN has already reached out about televising some events.”
Sayler admitted to mixed feelings about the decision.
“My heart hurts for the kids,” he said. “Our student-athletes have been tremendous ambassadors for the school. The burden of making this decision has been a heavy one, but what’s comforting is we know we’re doing it for the right reasons. Most of them have been affected by it by now. They read about it. Their questions have been more prevalent in the last 48 hours. Deep down, most of them understand.”