Jim Sterk speaks to the media (copy)

Missouri Athletics Director Jim Sterk speaks to the media about firing football coach Barry Odom in November in the Mizzou Arena Media Room. Sterk told the Missourian he was hopeful for a return to football this fall, but a decision on the upcoming season likely won’t be made until July.

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Missouri Athletics Director Jim Sterk told the Missourian Thursday that he’s optimistic about football returning in the fall. This comes a day after the NCAA’s decision to lift its moratorium on voluntary football and basketball workouts on June 1.

Sterk also said he expects the lifting of the moratorium to have some impact on the SEC chancellors’ Friday vote on when to bring athletics back to their campuses.

However, with the optimism still comes uncertainty.

“The chancellors may or may not decide tomorrow, but they’ll certainly be discussing it,” Sterk said Thursday. "(The chancellors are) going to take advice from our medical task force and ... then each of the campuses, (which are) looking at what’s best for them. And so we’ll all coalesce together in some kind of decision, hopefully by the end of the day tomorrow.”

Sterk echoed statements he made to the media a week ago, saying he still does not know what the results of the vote will be.

Regardless of when workouts return to campus, Sterk noted that they’ll be a “positive step” for moving forward with a fall football season, which the department will rely on for a large amount of revenue. In 2019, football produced $38,471,523 of Missouri’s $106,610,244 annual revenue.

“We need to continue to make steps to move forward, and we can’t just do it all at once,” Sterk said. “So I think these are good steps (and) that the student-athletes need to start training. I think taking time and making sure that they’re properly trained, and not pushed too hard at the start ... that’s a positive step towards playing football in the fall.”

Much like several other athletic departments across the country, Missouri has been looking ahead and planning for several scenarios, expecting to return to normalcy at some point. However, Sterk noted it’s easy to get a little too forward-thinking.

“You don’t sleep at night if you start thinking, and all the things that have to have to occur and how we do it,” he said.

So, the department is looking at scenarios 30 days at a time, particularly 30, 60 and 90 days ahead.

“What we’re trying to do is set a strategy and then, as in everything with this Coronavirus, as you get closer to different time periods, you can make better decisions on it,” he said.

What’s important right now, Sterk said, is doing things to prepare for decisions, instead of making decisions months in advance. In particular, he noted the potential return of football players to campus some time in June, but said the decision on the return of the football season likely won’t be made until mid or late July.

Sterk is also hopeful that the return of professional sports such as Major League Baseball, as well as other events this summer, will help the decision on when the school’s football season begins.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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