Sportscaster and Virginia Tech professor Bill Roth talks COVID-19 impact on sports, students

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)-- Play-by-play veteran Bill Roth has seen his share of great moments behind the mic.

(Photo: Virginia Tech)

The voice of the Hokies for 27 years, Roth now broadcasts games for ESPN and he had been slated to call two college basketball games and a college football spring game before COVID-19 halted competition.

He said it may soon be time to start thinking about how the upcoming football season could also be affected.

"I'm a little bit concerned right now about an altered or limited or shortened college football season," Roth said. "A change in the college football season will have a huge economic impact. A cancellation of the college football season will have a devastating impact on a lot of colleges and universities. It's way too early to project that, but it's not too early to think about it and to plan rescheduling; whether we push back the season or shorten the season or somehow amend it, if it gets to that point."

Roth also wears another hat, as a professor of sports media and analytics at Virginia Tech.

While he's managed moving coursework online, he says his biggest concern is how his students will handle finding internships in a summer where sports may take a back seat to social distancing.

"I don't want it to be a lost summer for the students at Virginia Tech and our SMA program," Roth said. "We're fine academically right now. We've been able to move everything online: quizzes and papers, and they can still do interviews and podcasts. But the outside activities, such as summer broadcasting baseball, I'm concerned about as we sit here in early April."

Roth's advice to those students in limbo can extend to a lot of folks who, quite simply, aren't sure what the future might hold.

"We're at a stoplight right now," he said. "Everybody is stopped, but you need to be ready. You need to have your resume ready so when that light turns green, you are ready to hit your accelerator, to go. When the light turns green, when it's time to go, don't look back at this downtime as wasted time. Take advantage of it."

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