Whether there will be an on-time start to college football – or even a truncated season – is still up in the air. Several schools have said they will not allow football without a return to campus by all students. Cancellation of the upcoming season would result in millions of dollars lost by athletic departments.
Voluntary workouts are starting for a prospective college football season in the fall. But student athletes that wish to return will have to acknowledge the coronavirus risks and pledge to follow safety guidelines in order to participate.
Ohio State is among the schools requiring a waiver, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Indiana University is also requiring the pledge. It is unclear if all Big Ten schools are asking athletes for the waiver.
Equally unclear is whether signing the document would indemnify the schools if athletes contract COVID-19 while on campus. So far, Ohio State isn’t releasing results for its testing of its athletes. But other schools have, and at least eight Alabama players reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as three Oklahoma State players.
“From a functional perspective of trying to curtail an epidemic, it’s helpful for the public to know that this is going on even among the members of their beloved football team,” Michael Saag, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, told The Dispatch. “I think there’s some utilitarian benefit from a public-health standpoint.”
The Ohio State document warned players that “although the university is following the coronavirus guidelines issued by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other experts to reduce the spread of infection, I can never be completely shielded from all risk of illness caused by COVID-19 or other infections.”
Players who won’t sign the pledge will keep their scholarships, but will not be allowed to take part in team activities or come to school facilities. Players under 18 require a parental approval.
According to the so-called Buckeye Pledge,” Ohio State players must follow coronavirus testing guidelines, report being exposed to the virus, disclose any symptoms of the virus they may be sufferingand stay home if they feel sick. The school claimed it took its rules fro the Centers for Disease Control and Ohio Department of Health.