Time is Running Out for College Athletics to Make a Decision for the Fall
Over the weekend, UTEP sent out a release to confirm what felt like inescapable news. Five Miner student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 and as a result, the university's athletic facilities will close for extensive cleaning until Thursday, July 16.
Through the release, UTEP detailed the precautions it took during the resumption of summer workouts. Since they started on June 15, about 60 student-athletes participated in workouts. The school administered daily health screenings, set limitations on its facilities and even designated one single entrance and exit for the athletes. Still, the inevitable happened.
This doesn't come as groundbreaking news either. Universities across the country have been affected by the coronavirus, such as Clemson, Alabama, Texas... you name it. NM State reported cases during its resumption of workouts. Same with the high school ranks at the local level, causing most school districts to shut down summer workouts.
Sports are now going to operate in a cycle: Return for workouts. Positive test internally. Quarantine. Repeat.
In the summer, shutting everything down is probably the best move each university could do. It allows for sanitation, gives athletes a break and can help stop any sort of spread. But what if this happens mid-season? How does a team proceed when it has several players test positive? These are some tough answers the NCAA will need to figure out soon.
Health officials hoped that we would be in a better place at this point in the summer. Leaders in college athletics continue to count on sports being played this fall, with or without fans. But with cases rising across the country, college sports are still at a standstill. El Paso reported four separate days of 200-plus positive cases and saw a record-high 288 positive COVID-19 cases on Saturday. The numbers haven't been depreciating.
The second week of July was supposed to bring more students back to campus, not a shutdown of summer workouts. It's hard to imagine that in a little over nine weeks we are supposed to see UTEP host Texas Tech at the Sun Bowl (Sept. 5) for their home opener.
Time is running out for the NCAA to make a decision on the 2020-21 athletic season start.