Arizona Wildcats football head coach Jedd Fisch said Tuesday at Pac-12 Football Media Day that 93 percent of his players have been vaccinated for COVID-19.
“We only have eight players out of the 118 on the roster that currently are not,” he said. “We believe it’s a competitive advantage to get vaccinated, and to live freely let’s say in terms of their health and their wellness, and we want our players to take care of themselves in every way, shape or form.”
Not only will getting vaccinated help prevent UA players from developing a severe case of COVID-19, it will help the Wildcats avoid losing key or swaths of players during the season to illness, positive tests and/or contract tracing.
The Pac-12 has not announced its testing protocols for the 2021 season but new commissioner George Kliavkoff said Tuesday that the plan is to have regular testing for unvaccinated student-athletes as well as vaccinated student-athletes who are symptomatic.
Kliavkoff said two-thirds of Pac-12 teams have had more than 80 percent of their players vaccinated, with half eclipsing the 90 percent mark.
Nine Pac-12 schools are requiring their students to get vaccinated, Kliavkoff said, but UA isn’t one of them. A state-wide executive order prevents Arizona’s public universities from issuing such a mandate.
Unlike last fall when games were ruled no contests when one or both teams had a COVID outbreak, the penalty this season is expected to be much harsher for teams who cannot field a playable roster.
“We’re leaning towards going back to the pre-COVID policy of forfeits if you can’t field a team, but we’ve not made that final decision yet,” Kliavkoff said.