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UK summer classes will be online; Nutter Field House repurposed as hospital

What will be the implications of these decisions?

A lot of big news came out of the University of Kentucky Friday morning. The first big piece of news had to do with Kentucky football facilities.

Nutter Field House, Kentucky’s indoor football practice facility, is being converted into a COVID-19 hospital. The plan is to use the enormous facility to install 400 beds to be used as hospital overflow if Lexington medical care centers become overwhelmed.

“As the Commonwealth’s health care provider for advanced and critical care, it is essential that we are prepared for any scenario to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community,” Dr. Mark F. Newman, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs said in a press release.

In the facility, there will be partitions between rooms, shower and sanitation areas will be installed, and a sub flooring system will be put in place. As Governor Beshear said in his press conference Thursday, “if we don’t need it, hallelujah.”

This obviously impacts what Kentucky Football is able to do if/when athletes return to campus. A lot of their activity takes place in the Nutter Field House, and not having that would change everything about their preparation.

Perhaps an even bigger story came later when UK President Capilouto announced that all summer instruction will take place online. That does not come as a huge surprise, but it may have major implications.

If the campus is truly closed for the summer, that means both basketball and football players will be unable to come to Lexington for summer practice. Obviously that would have a bigger impact on the football program, whose season is more imminent. But the basketball team also always does a significant amount of work in the summer building team chemistry.

While there is the possibility that classes can be online without campus being closed, this is certainly a decision that creates concern about the upcoming season of college athletics across the board. Of course, fans would be upset to not watch their teams play. But the financial hit that these institutions would take would be incredible, thus causing the need for major budget decisions to be made.

Stay tuned here to A Sea of Blue for updates as they become available.