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UArizona athletic director talks about possible return of football in fall

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Arizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke had a lot to say about the future of competition for the University of Arizona football team and other sports at a special campus event.

He was a featured speaker at the UArizona Arthritis Center's annual fundraiser.

The Bear Down Luncheon is normally a steak lunch in person at Flemings.  However, this year it was online.

And, the question of the day? With the Big-10 announcing a partial football season in the fall, will the Pac-12 and UArizona follow suit?

"We're focused on trying to provide a very safe, healthy environment so that we can get back to some sense of normalcy to compete and have sports in that winter and spring season," Heeke said. "Who knows? Based on today, maybe a little sooner than that."

Heeke is referring to the advances in preventing the spread of COVID-19 we now know compared to when the Pac-12 initially followed the Big Ten's decision to postpone the fall football season.

However, if the Pac-12 doesn't fast track a plan for a fall season -- like the Big 12 is doing, it would be the only Power Five Conference deciding not to suit up. This would hurt teams like Arizona down the line as recruits will go elsewhere.     

The good news? "We're focused on trying to maintain a healthy environment," said Heeke.

That means as trends change and players potentially get to the point of being able to practice in full-contact drills, there will be more COVID-19 testing.

Heeke termed it as "rapid response testing, so we can get results very, very quickly and identify each day, each morning. We can identify those student athletes that are going into these higher risk contact environments. That they are all protected as well, and the virus won't spread."

Ultimately, if Arizona and other west coast teams follow the other Power 5 schools it'd be up to the Pac-12.  

Heeke was speaking at the annual fundraiser for the UArizona Arthritis Center. 

UArizona Arthritis Center, a Center of Excellence at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, is a research leader with a focus on identifying the causes of arthritis and developing an improved diagnosis, measurement and treatment of this and other rheumatological diseases.

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Paul Cicala

Paul Cicala is a 2-time winner of the prestigious”Edward R. Murrow Award” for his reporting/anchoring in news & sports. Paul Cicala has also been nominated for multiple EMMY’s. Cicala has won the “Best Sportscaster” category in Tucson the last 3 years (voted on by readers of “Tucson Weekly”). Cicala is a native Tucsonan who specialized in border stories during his earlier career as a news reporter in this market, and now concentrates mainly on sports stories (with an occasional special report and/or feature story on life in Tucson & the Sonoran Desert).

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