No one knows for sure what college campuses will look like in fall 2020 , but it's clear students won't be kicking off their higher education in large auditoriums for convocation, initiating brothers at fraternity parties, or flirting with dormmates in mess hall buffet lines.
He said universities are "in clear agreement" that "if you don't have students on campus, you don't have student-athletes on campus.
Emmert said that while colleges wouldn't have to be back to their pre-coronavirus functioning before sports can return, schools need to treat "the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students."
"And so, if a school doesn't reopen," he added, "then they're not going to be playing sports. It's really that simple."
Emmert outlined three potential models for school reopenings, including one that looks most like a typical school year, but with physical distancing and hygiene practices in place; allows students on campus but keeps large lectures online; and keeps everything online.
He emphasized that colleges will likely open in different capacities and at different times, and the NCAA will need to adjust accordingly. It will be a "very unusual school year," he said.
The NCAA's chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline, also contributed to the discussion, stressing that testing and contact tracing measures would need to be in place before students and student-athletes are safe on campus and in their sports .
"The testing component especially getting a rapid-diagnostic test on the one hand and then understanding immunity on the other that's going to have to really improve over the next several weeks."
Top colleges have wide-ranging plans for their reopenings
Top colleges, including those with Division 1 NCAA football teams, have varying plans around their reopenings, Business Insider's Joey Hadden reported . Most have no concrete public plans at all.
The University of Michigan's president, for instance, said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the university reopening in the fall for in-person coursework, but it's unclear how that would work. Duke University's president has said plans will be finalized in August. And, the University of South Carolina hasn't released any plans.