FARGO — At a press conference announcing a $20 million grant for the university Thursday afternoon, North Dakota State University president Dean Bresciani offered an update on the state of Bison football.
Asked whether or not there will be football in the fall, Bresciani chuckled and said "I sure hope so."
The NDSU football team returned to campus at the beginning of June and has not needed to adjourn practices.
"It is interesting that when we look around at the major football programs around the nation, some of them are actually having to stop football practices or curtail a lot of what they're doing," Bresciani noted.
In Bresciani's analysis, NDSU is in a better position than many other major football programs such as Clemson, which reported 28 cases of COVID-19 among athletes and staff.
"We've had one case, and that's the only case we've had, knock on wood," Bresciani said.
The athletic department has not reported any new cases of COVID-19 since the original case was reported June 15.
"Our athletic program went to a lot of work themselves coming up with the safety protocol that so far is working exceptionally well and clearly better than a lot of other major programs across the nation," Bresciani said.
Whether or not the Fargodome will be able to allow fans or tailgating, Bresciani said, is "hard to predict."
"We're waiting to see what the state guidelines are and where we are as a state," he said, referencing the state's Smart Restart plan. "Obviously, the lower the level, the more potential we have to operate the Fargodome as normal, but I think it's way too early."
NDSU's first home game is scheduled for Sept. 12 against Drake.
As far as the Bison's trip to Autzen Stadium to face Oregon, "both schools are proceeding forward as if the game is going to happen," Bresciani said. "We also recognize that we have no way to know what the parameters are going to be," he added, noting it is a greater challenge for the University of Oregon. Oregon has recorded twice as many COVID-19 cases as North Dakota.
Bresciani remains hopeful the matchup with the Ducks, as well as the rest of the season, will go smoothly.
"I'm an optimist by nature, what can I say?"