College football was reminded Wednesday that coronavirus persists, and schools will need sound plans for athletes or staff who test positive.
Oklahoma is taking a preventative measure. Players and coaches will begin self-quarantining from home in mid-June, before returning to campus for voluntary workouts July 1.
“The majority of our players will be able to quarantine there (from home),” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “Then we’ve got some safe ways we can bring them back and preserve the integrity of that quarantine through any travel back here. It’s a pretty intensive process, but again I think it’s necessary.”
Riley disclosed that part of OU’s strategy during a scheduled video conference, which took place shortly after Oklahoma State announced that three players who were asymptomatic tested positive for COVID-19 upon return to campus.
OSU linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga tweeted Tuesday that he tested positive after attending a protest in Tulsa, where he took precautions against the virus. He later clarified he’s unsure where he contracted the virus, but wanted people to be aware of the potential for getting it.
Iowa State announced four athletes from two different sports have been quarantined after experiencing symptoms. Ole Miss confirmed to the Clarion Ledger that one athlete and one staffer tested positive.
It was the first flurry of cases in college football as players begin traveling from across the country for on-campus voluntary workouts, putting schools’ plans for positive virus tests into action.
The Big 12 allows schools to begin workouts June 15. Other leagues are beginning earlier.
Last week, OU released a plan developed by its medical staff for returning players to its facility. Initially they will be tested for COVID-19 during an assessment. A quarantine area is designated in case players test positive for the coronavirus.
Daily screenings prior to workouts will take place after that.
OU is confident in its plan, though Riley didn’t expound on the self-quarantines that will take place before workouts because the situation is “changing so quickly.”
After shutting down virtually all American sports in March, the virus and its safety measures have developed fluidly.
While OSU is preparing for a June 15 return, Alabama and Clemson, for example, are set to return June 8. Riley believes OU has an advantage in being able to watch how those programs navigate the process through the next month.
He reminded that OU’s return date was set by the school before the Big 12 and NCAA announced when facilities could reopen.
“We simply did what we believed was best,” Riley said. “We didn’t wait until one of our competitors did it. And when our competitors said they were bringing them back early, we didn’t flinch. I think that’s a sign of strong leadership in our university and set our priorities as to what was best and stuck with it.”