While the Arizona Wildcats paused their student-athlete re-entry plan on June 29, the 83 football players already on campus were allowed to continue voluntary workouts under strict protocols that include frequent COVID-19 testing, monitoring and contact tracing.
Some UA football players wondered why workouts were continuing when Pima County has become a hotspot for the coronavirus, but so far UA’s strategy to keep them healthy has been effective.
The UA announced Friday that a total of 366 COVID-19 tests, which include PCR (polymerase chain reaction), antigen and antibody tests, have been administered to those 83 players over the last few weeks and three returned positive.
Those three student-athletes have been removed from workouts and entered into self-isolation. Two of them were asymptomatic.
The UA has also tested 28 staff members who help conduct the voluntary workouts and none have tested positive for COVID-19.
Altogether, UA’s positive rate (less than 1%) is much lower than that of Pima County (9.6%).
“When we made the decision to pause bringing additional student-athletes back to campus, we did so out of an abundance of caution,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement. “Our athletics department’s re-entry, testing and medical processes have been effective and efficient. Arizona Athletics will continue to work closely with President Robbins, University leadership and campus partners in our commitment to protect the health of our community. Assessments and consultations with our local health authorities, the University of Arizona, the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA are ongoing as we look to resume the safe and healthy return of student-athletes and staff to campus.”
It’s unclear when Arizona will resume its re-entry plan and return the rest of its student-athletes to campus. By now, soccer and volleyball players were supposed to be conducting voluntary workouts, while men’s and women’s basketball players were supposed to report by the end of the month.
The 2020 college football, soccer and volleyball seasons will surely be delayed, with the Pac-12 expected to announce revised, conference-only schedules by the end of the month.
Some conferences have already gone ahead and canceled fall sports, but the Pac-12 (and the rest of the Power 5) has not reached that point yet.