As the first state within the Pac-12 footprint to fully “re-open” after the coronavirus-prompted shutdown, Arizona and ASU seemed poised to be the trendsetter for the rest of the conference when it came to bringing student-athletes back to campus.
Now the UA president is questioning whether his school should have in-person classes when the fall semester begins Aug. 24, a decision that would no doubt impact Arizona Wildcats sports.
“If I had to say today would we re-open? No, because ... the ICUs are full,” Dr. Robert Robbins said at a press conference Thursday (via the Arizona Daily Star). “We cannot have a situation where we’re bringing students back to campus, asking our faculty and staff to come back to campus when we’re in truly an exponential growth of the number of cases here.”
Arizona has become a major hotspot for COVID-19 cases, with another 3,428 reported on Friday. The state’s total count of 66,458 cases is up 233 percent since the beginning of June.
Yet amid that rise, Arizona football players have been returning to campus in small groups. The first batch of 20, all of whom remained in Tucson after the campus was shut down in March, began voluntary workouts on June 15 with a second group joining them on June 22 and additional groups set to begin next Monday and July 6.
UA athletic director Dave Heeke said last week that none of the first group of players tested positive for COVID-19, while no information has been released on the second group. Several schools across the country have announced multiple players testing positive, leading programs like Kansas State to temporarily pause workouts.