Entering a new role in a time of great uncertainty, first-year Big West Commissioner Dan Butterly is hoping to steer the conference through choppy waters.
Butterly comes to the Big West after more than two decades in the Mountain West Conference, where he most recently held the title of Senior Associate Commissioner. He'll officially take the reigns of the Big West on July 1, replacing long-time Commissioner Dennis Farrell.
The big question is, will the first season under Butterly's watch start on time?
"Whether our campuses can be open in the fall is really going to dictate if we’re going to have sports in the fall," Butterly said during a Zoom press conference Tuesday. "It really is a national issue that may be out of the control of individual conferences. If this pandemic continues and if it spreads to a second wave or even a stronger wave ... that’s going to really determine what the future’s going to be next academic year."
Cal State Bakersfield is scheduled to begin its first season in the league in 2020-21 after coming over from the WAC. Currently, the first Big West seasons for the Roadrunner volleyball, men's and women's soccer and women's cross country teams are in limbo.
If fall sports do move forward, Butterly says he would need to map out a plan with both conference and state officials as to how to properly vet potential spectators.
"If you’re going to have fans come into the arenas, come onto the fields and view the games, you’re going to have to have a plan to make sure that any infection, anybody who may have this COVID virus does not spread it to anyone else," he said. "The greatest concern is the safety and security of our student-athletes, our coaches, our staffs and our fans."
Of course, the possibility of playing without fans is also an option. While he's yet to discuss the matter with conference officials, Butterly says he's be open to holding events without spectators while expanding streaming options on the Big West's digital network.
"Any athlete that is playing their sport, they want to compete, they want to participate in their sport," he said. "They don’t want to lose a year of their training, of their eligibility of their opportunity to play in a sport. Me personally, if we have the opportunity to allow our student-athletes to play the sport they love on the field in the fall, I hope we are able to provide that opportunity.
"I just think it would be a disappointment for our student-athletes if they didn't get the opportunity to participate when that opportunity could exist for them.”
'Runner men add another JUCO transfer
The Cal State Bakersfield men's basketball team added depth to its backcourt Monday, when it announced a commitment from Grehlon Easter.
A 6-foot-3 guard from Little Rock, Ark., Easter is coming off a strong sophomore season at Butler Community College (Kan.), where he averaged a team-high 14.9 points on a Grizzly team that went 25-8 and reached the Region VI Championship game. His performance earned him spots on the All-Region VI and All-KJCCC.
Easter has one year of Division-I experience, playing 30 games at Lamar in 2018-19, where he averaged, 2.8 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.5 assists.
"We are excited about the signing of Grehlon Easter," CSUB coach Rod Barnes told the school's athletics website. "He is a versatile guard who is extremely competitive. He plays with energy and a winner spirit that is contagious. He is a really good defender and he can also score on all three levels."
On Tuesday, it was announced former Roadrunner forward Darrin Person Jr. would return to his hometown to play for Fresno Pacific.
Person is one of three CSUB players to enter the transfer portal this offseason, with all three having found new landing spots. Cam Allen committed to Towson, while Greg Lee transferred to Western Michigan.