College football season can be played safely, White House coronavirus advisor says

Big Ten and PAC-12 decided not to play this fall

(Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas said the college football season can be played safely this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Atlas said this during his visit to Tallahassee with Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday.

The White House COVID-19 advisor admitted he is a University of Illinois fan while acknowledging how sports play a large role in the nation’s economic engine and the community’s well-being.

“I mean they are among the most fit people in the universe,” he said referring to college athletes. “They’re very low-risk people.”

He noted a lot of cities depend on college football, saying they’ll take an economic hit as the Big Ten football conference and the PAC-12 decided not to have college football this fall.

“These are communities of college towns depend on these activities as we know, businesses in Palo Alto, I mean there’s an estimate that half of the small businesses will go out of business and not return because Stanford’s sort of closed down,” he said.

Atlas, the newest member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, said allowing college football to be played allows for those athletes to be in a controlled environment.

“They have testing, they have doctors, this is the best possible healthy environment for the healthiest people. And so to start saying that we can’t have these sports when so many people in the community also depend upon the athletes themselves or their families -- this shouldn’t really be a point of controversy,” Atlas said.

DeSantis, who hosted the roundtable from Florida’s Capitol to discuss education and the reopening of schools said by canceling the season people are not giving athletes a choice. He also said no college football player should be punished if they want to skip the upcoming season amid the pandemic.

“No one should be forced to be playing and you should not suffer any negative in terms of the scholarship or any of that,” he said.

Florida’s governor said the Big Ten made a poor decision in electing to not play football this fall.

“I think if they don’t play, all of those kids should be able to transfer someplace that’s going to let them play,” he said.

The University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, and the University of Miami football teams are all set to play this fall.

The 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship will be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in January.