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South Carolina plans to move ahead with fall semester

The chances of seeing football just increased.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Last month, University of South Carolina president Bob Caslen and athletic director Ray Tanner set a May 15 deadline — which could be pushed to as late as June 15 — to determine whether the school could safely hold in-person classes on campus this fall as the coronavirus pandemic drags on.

With recent trends to relax quarantine restrictions and gradually reopen businesses, including in the state of South Carolina, the USC administration apparently likes what it sees: The plan is to proceed as “normal” in August.

I say “normal” because that will, of course, come with some health and safety caveats, although Caslen declined to go into detail in his statement.

Our epidemiologists remind us that the risks associated with COVID-19 will remain a reality for the foreseeable future, simply because we have neither herd immunity nor a vaccine. With that reality, our purposeful efforts to reduce the spread of the virus through recommended public health protocols will continue as we also bolster our ability to respond to any potential resurgence of cases.

So with the academic side of things seemingly settled, what of athletics — and more specifically, football? This move is a huge boost to the chances of the sport being played as normal this season (although again, “normal” is likely to carry some necessary modifications). College ADs sounded pretty universally against playing football without students and fans present, so the return of on-campus activity bodes well for the sport. According to 247Sports, several fellow SEC schools — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas A&M — have also announced intentions to reopen campus this fall.

We still don’t know if football will played, and if so, what it will look like. But this is definitely a big step closer toward that reality.