- Cases have been found through testing before team workouts even start
- College football season is still slated to start on time
- A new six-week practice schedule allows for player observation
College athletes were allowed to return to voluntary training on June 8 with several institutions already having reported positive test results among their players. At least one of these cases is thought to be a result of attending a protest.
Many diagnoses are becoming apparent as universities do intake testing before allowing them to practice with teammates.
With at least 10 major universities reporting players who tested positive for COVID-19 well before voluntary training resumed, it’s unclear how this may affect college football, which is scheduled to carry on as planned. The NCAA’s Division I Football Oversight Committee released a six-week practice plan June 11 for schools to implement to avoid a late start to the season.
After spring practices were left “incomplete” or simply shut down, this new plan introduces an extra two weeks of voluntary practice for coaches to assess players’ health condition and playbook knowledge. The idea would then be for training camp to be on Aug. 7, according to Yahoo.
ESPN’s confidential college football survey indicated that a vast majority of players surveyed are OK with continuing to play without a coronavirus vaccine, based on an assumption of risk already inherent to the sport itself. Most of the anonymous players would also be fine with playing in an empty stadium, as large gatherings like football games have previously been canceled to stem the spread of coronavirus.
In regards to the possibility of playing two seasons in one calendar year, players were almost split, with a less than 10-player majority saying that although it would likely be a lot on their bodies, it would be doable.
“There’s no way in hell I think a linebacker or lineman could go and play a full 12 games and then a bowl game and then be healthy to play again in another few months,” one of the anonymous players told ESPN. “Your roster would be pretty diminished. From a team perspective, I don’t think that’s possible.”
As for how the season itself may play out with sick athletes and scheduling, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN that teams will just have to take the season one day at a time.
“We’re just going to have to see how the season unfolds,” Bowlsby told ESPN. “And then deal with it.”