Sports officials have spent months considering whether it would be feasible to hold a football season in 2020, with deliberations frequently hobbled by the sport’s governance system. Although the N.C.A.A. has some power over football, it does not have absolute authority, and so decisions about the precise course of a season were left to individual conferences — each with their own concerns, including media deals, constituencies and levels of risk tolerance.
Some conferences, like the Ivy League, canceled their seasons without ever publicly pursuing an alternative. The Mid-American Conference said it would not play games this fall but would try in the spring. And on Monday, the Mountain West Conference said it had settled on an “indefinite postponement” of all of its fall sports.
In recent weeks, the Power 5 conferences scaled back their plans for the seasons while they harbored some hopes that their teams would be able to play this fall.
The A.C.C. moved to an 11-game schedule, including one out-of-conference game for each team, while the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC prepared for 10-game seasons that would be played exclusively within individual leagues. The Big 12 opted for a schedule of nine conference games for each team, plus a nonconference matchup. Some of the conferences also delayed the start dates of their seasons and pushed back their plans for league championship games.
Still, some executives were skeptical that the country’s top teams would play a single down before the end of 2020. Even developments that encouraged sports fans, like the release of an updated schedule, were tempered with warnings.
“It changes by the day,” Warren said last week when his league published a schedule. “There’s no guarantee that we’re going to have sports in the fall.”
Just days after Warren spoke, misgivings inside the league and within the broader college sports world intensified throughout the weekend. On Friday night, Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A. president, said that “everybody wants fall sports to return — but we can’t do it unless we can find a way to do it with minimized risk for these young people.”