President Donald Trump held a conference call with many of the major sports league commissioners Saturday to discuss the nationwide response to the coronavirus pandemic and expressed his desire for sports to return by late summer.
Trump said on the call that he is hopeful the NFL season will open on time and urged the NFL to continue with plans for its “virtual” NFL draft (April 23-25), a person with knowledge of details from the conference call told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. Trump also praised the commissioners for their outreach and support efforts during the pandemic and urged them to continue.
The NFL reiterated that it realizes this is a fluid situation and that it will adjust as it has to this point, following advice from medical experts, while adhering to local and state authorities.
Additionally, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on the call that sports leagues, including the NBA, would like to be part of a return to normalcy and help with the economy — as long as health officials declare it safe to do so, a person familiar with the call told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the call.
“The president recognized the good work being done by many teams and players to care for their communities, workforces, and fan bases across the Nation,” according to the White House pool report. “The commissioners thanked President Trump for his national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry. President Trump encouraged them to continue to support their fellow Americans during this challenging time.”
In addition to Trump, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway and special assistant Andrew Guiliani, the son of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, represented the executive branch.
The other participating commissioners were:
Gary Bettman (NHL), Cathy Engelbert (WNBA), Don Garber (MLS), Roger Goodell, (NFL), Rob Manfred (MLB), Vince McMahon (WWE), Jay Monahan (PGA Tour), Adam Silver (NBA), Dana White (UFC), Roger Penske (IndyCar), Michael Whan (LPGA), Drew Fleming (Breeders Cup).
Notably, the National Women’s Soccer League was absent, as was the NCAA.
Contributing: Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY Sports