On Wednesday, the NCAA Division I council voted to allow certain programs to start using school facilities on June 1. Volleyball was not one of this programs.
John Cook said he had his players tested and was preparing to have them back and ready to go on Monday, but the NCAA informed him volleyball players had not been cleared to use school facilities, unlike football and men’s and women’s basketball players.
Cook joined his daughter, Lauren West, for Friday’s edition of “Conversation with the Cooks” podcast and Nebraska shared a snippet of that discussion on Thursday night’s edition of Sports Nightly focusing on how Nebraska is handling things and what the volleyball season might look like.
“We’ve been very proactive and a lot of schools are studying what we’re doing because we’ve been on the cutting edge of trying to keep the athletes safe, get them back here, keep everybody else back here safe,” Cook said. “We’re working with the medical center up in Omaha with the testing and everything. They’re doing some studies. It’s a pretty cool deal, everything that’s going on in this. But I think we’re ahead of 99% of the rest of the country.”
Cook said everything changes day to day as new information becomes available, but as of his most recent conversations he believes the most likely format for this season is conference play only.
“They don’t want anybody traveling and they don’t want what’s called cross-pollination, meaning if we go to California, to Texas, to Florida, we’re going to different schools with different protocols and everything where in the Big Ten everybody’s going to be on the same page,” Cook said. “Then also, the cost-containment part of it. Now, that doesn’t apply to us because if we can have fans, we make money having matches at home.”
Last season, Nebraska’s nonconference schedule took the Huskers to San Diego for a tournament and it brought schools from California, North Carolina and Colorado through Lincoln.
Cook did say Nebraska could potentially play Creighton and Omaha because of the minimal travel involved, but that would probably be it. Even if the season consists of nothing but conference play, Cook said the NCAA still wants to hold a postseason and he mentioned a couple ways how the season might change to allow for that to happen.
“I know the NCAA wants to have the championship; that’s a priority,” Cook said. “There’s a chance we would start the season late, or we could start it on time and have the championship around Thanksgiving to try to avoid flu season and the COVID virus together.”
As for matches at the Devaney Center, Cook is hopeful that Nebraska will still be able to allow fans into the building once the season begins, in some form or fashion.
“In regards to fans, I know they are working—Matt Davison, who runs our events, is working on a plan, and I think there’s stages to bring fans back slowly and build it,” Cook said. “So they’re working on that plan. I don’t know all the details of it but I know the goal is Nebraska wants fans and we want sports and to get it back to normal as much as we can but keep everybody safe. I think there’s stages that they’re going to do that in. That’s our hope and what we’re working for.”
The full podcast will be available on Friday.