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MTSU Athletics Director Chris Massaro said officials at Conference USA schools have talked often this spring about preparing players for the upcoming football season. FILE

Opinions vary across the country whether there will be a college football season this fall.

Meanwhile, MTSU Athletics Director Chris Massaro is planning on kicking off the season at Duke on Sept. 5.

“I remain really optimistic about it,” Massaro said. “We’re only two months into this. I think we’ve made a lot of progress with what we know and what works.

“I’ve told our coaches and they’ve relayed it to the student-athletes. We have a schedule and right now nothing has changed. I’m approaching it that we’re kicking off Sept. 5 and that’s the way we’re going to continue to approach it.”

There will inevitably be some universities that don’t bring their students back on campus in the fall. However, if a Conference USA member falls into that category and doesn’t play football, the league will still move ahead as scheduled.

“I think almost everybody, we’ve had that conversation,” Massaro said. “If one or two aren’t ready then we would still play as much as we can without a member or two. That was the consensus of the athletic directors.”

Another concern is how much time will players have to prepare for the season and how much time do they need.

“The first step is to get them back on campus and get them training, and we had hoped to do that in July,” Massaro said. “Our conference trainers are all talking to each other.

“Football coaches are holding meetings. Their main topic is return to play, and we’re able to get their feedback and then national feedback. The athletic directors are talking three times a week. We do have a keen idea of what everybody is doing. There is a lot of safety protocol stuff we will be implementing as well.”

Massaro also said C-USA is examining lowering travel costs this fall.

“We’re working on that from a conference perspective,” he said. “We’re looking at playing more regional schedules. We’re looking at ways to reduce our air traffic. We still have to get on a plane to Florida and Texas with our schedules. It’s not only cost saving but you reduce risks in airports as well. We’re looking at sport by sport and seeing what tweaking we can do, particularly for Olympic sports.”

As for MTSU, its first big step was announcing students will return to classes on campus in the fall.

“That’s a big step all across our conference,” Massaro said. “There are a lot of schools that are going to have fall classes. What we need to do is have a bunch of communication and that our athletes and parents are educated and what the campus is going to look like. If it’s facial coverage, that’s what we’ll abide by.”

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