By HILLARY GEARY / Staff Writer

Barton College has paused preparation for fall football season in response to COVID-19 pandemic.

The fall of 2020 was to be the first football season at Barton since 1950, until the nation was blindsided by Coronavirus. Barton College has currently paused all sports practices and events.

“We were about halfway through spring football practice when it was decided to pause the semester. In NCAA football you get 15 practices, we had completed seven practices. Our preparation is the main thing being affected thus far,” said head coach Chip Hester

The NCAA has the final authority on when to reinstate collegiate sports for the United States.

“It is too early to tell how the pandemic will affect the start of the football season. All return to play scenarios for NCAA sponsored sports are being discussed within workgroups to determine how to proceed with the health and safety of the students being the priority. I believe there will be a football season, but my hunch is it will not begin in September. There is some talk about moving the football season to the Spring semester,” said Barton College’s Director of Athletics Todd Wilkinson.

Stadium work continues

Despite the uncertainty of a fall season, progress continues on the new Barton football stadium.

“The stadium construction is progressing nicely as the work has not stopped. The weather has been excellent to keep the work moving. The stadium still has a mid-July finish date as a target. The delivery of some structural needs may be delayed since many production plants have shut down, but we have no major concerns now,” said Wilkinson.

Amidst the shifting environment of all collegiate activity, Barton staff have prioritized the health and safety of its staff and students over everything.

“I don’t think anyone truly knows what the future holds for this summer or fall. We can all pray that this virus has passed, and we will all be able to return to some sort of normalcy. There is no doubt we would all be disappointed if the season is delayed, however I think we all understand that the health and wellness of everyone is the most important thing to think about right now,” said Hester.

Wilkinson encourages fans to support Bulldog sports when collegiate activity returns to standard practice.

“I am in no hurry to start the season until the planning and execution of the safety and welfare of the students is achieved. I do not want to play without spectators. Whenever we can play we will make it work and it is going to be awesome!” said Wilkinson.

Ticket sales are ongoing

When the COVID-19 virus is no longer a threat, Barton expects to see stadium seats filled with Bulldog fans.

“Tickets are still being sold. No need to stop because Barton will play football on this campus at some point! Once this country can move freely without restrictions, I expect to see people flooding to sporting events as they are important to our society. The games are great and the social gatherings that revolve around college sports are fun!” said Wilkinson.

Wilson County is anticipating the return of Barton football.

“From the comments I’ve heard before all this started, the greater Wilson community is fired up about football coming to Barton. I think people will be even more hungry to see live sports again after all this is over. I am hopeful that we will have a wonderful crowd on September 5,” said Hester.