UW Oshkosh was supposed to start spring practice last Friday. Instead, Titan Stadium is empty.
"It's not fun," longtime Titans head coach Pat Cerroni said. "Anyone that says this is fun is crazy. Because I'm not having any fun at all."
Cerroni said spring practice has been a big reason for UWO's recent success, but the concerns over the coronavirus shutdown go far beyond the football field.
"The financial hit in this is going to be the hardest to recover from," Cerroni said.
The program's fund-raising efforts will take a hit. Its annual golf outing in June could be in Jeopardy, and on Wednesday the University of Wisconsin canceled all of its summer youth camps. Those typically bring in a significant amount of money to UWO football and other programs like it.
"We raise a lot of money. A lot of that is going to be up in the air right now," Cerroni said. "And the government ain't giving money to the DIII football school so... survival is kind of the question."
Still Cerroni said he's confident the program will get through the pandemic in a good spot, saying he's "optimistic" and describing the situation is "just different."
Cerroni said more than anything, he's looking forward to getting back out on the field with his team.
"I know that once we're all together, it'll be a happy day for everybody," he said. "I think it will be very special. Because now I think we've all lost it... and you just kind of realize what you had and you sit back and say let's get going."
Oshkosh's season is scheduled to begin on September 5 at Indiana Wesleyan University. Cerroni said he does not expect Division III football to play games without fans, as some levels of sport are considering. He said he believes at the Division III level, it would either be a "full go, or not at all."