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UNLV optimistic about spring season in face of pandemic

UNLV senior defensive back Drew Tejchman said he felt safe proceeding with a fall football season, but the Mountain West decided otherwise.

Tejchman was disappointed with Monday’s decision to postpone fall sports, but expressed a sense of optimism Tuesday about a spring season during a video conference call with local media. He participated in a strength and conditioning workout Tuesday morning with his teammates and said the Rebels are now focused on how to best prepare moving forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It definitely was tough just hearing the news and looking forward to the season with the new coaches,” Tejchman said. “But after thinking about it, it just gives us more time to get prepared for a season in the spring or whenever it’s going to come. … It hurt, but as long as we keep working, I think everything will be alright.”

UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois is confident the Mountain West can organize spring seasons for football and the remainder of its fall sports. She also said winter programs will prepare for winter seasons. She also affirmed Tuesday on the video conference call that the university does not plan on cutting any athletic programs to save money. She said the university will honor the scholarships of its athletes in full.

“When we’re on a playing field, nothing goes exactly according to plan,” Reed-Francois said. “What we do as athletes, as administrators, as coaches, is we adjust. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Athletic facilities will remain open and UNLV’s athletes will have access to them in the coming months.

Rebels football coach Marcus Arroyo said on the call that he has a tentative plan for his program through February, He said his staff will proceed with workouts and recruiting per usual. He added that UNLV was not by “any stretch of the imagination thinking we were pulling the plug” before the Mountain West canceled the fall football season Monday.

“We were rocking and rolling until anyone told us any different,” said Arroyo, who met Rebels football players Monday night. “We can control what we can control.”

Supporting the players

Football players across college football are mobilizing in the face of the pandemic, resulting in the formation of players coalitions in the Mountain West, Big Ten and Pac-12. Tejchman said Tuesday that he’s part of the Mountain West’s coalition, Mountain West United, and that he hopes the coalitions remain, even after the pandemic.

“If we all come together and create a voice as players, I think it will be heard at different levels,” he said. “We should have a voice. … Having that and giving our opinion helps the NCAA make different decisions and better decisions, based on what we think.”

Arroyo supported his players last week upon the formation of the coalition. He reaffirmed his support for them and the coalition on Tuesday.

“Supporting our players and their interests and the thoughts they have and the feelings they have and the things that affect them on a day-to-day basis is naturally our job,” he said. “To pretend that that’s not something that we have to do or we’re not supposed to do and that we can just put those things off, that’s not the role I signed up for. I signed up for listening to guys and being able to have a voice and being able to make a difference in their lives.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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