Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro is hopeful that athletics will return to campus in the fall after being cancelled due to coronavirus.
In an appearance on Sunday Morning Matters with Alexan Balekian on KSEE 24, Castro discussed the possible return of athletics and did not rule out allowing fans to watch in-person.
“I know that everybody misses Bulldog athletics, including me,” Castro said. “I love being out there, especially this time of year – baseball, softball. But looking ahead, what I’d say is that there’s still a chance. I think if we all do our part and keep the cases down closer to zero, we have a much better chance of being able to repopulate the campus faster, and that would include athletics.
“We don’t need to make a decision about that right now, so we’re going to wait and see how things go and do our very best. It’s just a matter of when and how, but we will have Bulldog athletics again. And our hope is it could be as early as this fall.”
Several universities have been forced to cut athletic programs with the pandemic causing glaring revenue shortfalls.
Thus far, Fresno State’s athletics department has yet to undergo any cuts, and Castro called the scenario a “last resort.”
“We’re looking at other options first,” Castro said. “Student-athletes here are so important. They’re leaders as well in a different respect, and we’re going to do our very best to keep that part of the university strong and vibrant for years to come.”
The university and its various affiliated entities saw a $13 million decline in revenue, Castro said.
The lost revenue comes from cancelled events at the Save Mart Center, housing, parking and dining, among other things.
Fresno State could also come up against an even greater challenge with the budget, depending on what happens with California’s budget. Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a 10 percent reduction of funding to the California State University system in his May budget revision.
If the state legislature approves Newsom’s proposal, Fresno State could be out $18 million over the next fiscal year.
“We have tightened our belts,” Castro said. “We’re not traveling. We’re hardly doing any hiring. We’re not doing events, and we’ll make other adjustments necessary. But we’re going to maintain the quality education at Fresno State, I promise that to our students and their families.”
Previously, CSU Chancellor Timothy White announced that the universities will hold the majority of their classes virtually. Castro said that he believes Fresno State will have about 2,000 students, faculty and staff on campus in the fall.
For those that will be on campus, the university will require them to wear facemasks in classrooms, Castro said. Fresno State will conduct COVID-19 testing at the beginning of the semester and will do temperature checks.
“We’re going to be very careful because it’s so important that we maintain the health and safety for our students,” Castro said. “They’re the next generation of leaders for our Valley. We want to take good care of them, as well as our faculty and staff who serve them.”
Castro added: “This is a challenging time for everybody, including Fresno State, but I have to tell you I am extraordinarily impressed with the resilience I have seen in our students and faculty and staff. Everybody’s come together.
“We’ve just graduated over 6,000 folks last week, and I could not be prouder of the way that we’ve responded. We stayed focused on our mission, which is to boldly educate and empower our students for success, and they’re hanging in there and doing the best they can.”