University of Minnesota sports are coming back! The athletic department announced Friday, that student athletes will be returning to campus in waves. Those waves kicked off today, when Gopher football players started arriving on campus to begin COVID testing measures (see below). This is a major first step in returning to some form of normal.
Any Student-athlete that returns to campus will do so voluntarily. Scholarships will be honored, if someone chooses not return for fall semester.
After the football team, men’s and women’s basketball will be summoned, eventually followed by soccer and volleyball. Additional athletes will return to campus in the weeks that follow the sports listed above..
“The health and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches and staff will always be our top priority. Our staff has spent the past several weeks preparing for our student-athletes to return to campus and has worked diligently to provide them with the safest environment possible. Our decision to bring students back to campus is supported by medical experts and leadership at the NCAA, Big Ten and on campus. With regard to testing for COVID-19, we have worked with numerous medical professionals and infectious disease specialists to ensure we are using the most current information and testing procedures.”University of Minnesota Athletic Director, Mark Coyle
The Big Ten “highly recommends” COVID-19 testing for student-athletes, as they return. First though, athletes will complete a symptom and exposure questionnaire. There will also be daily temperature and symptom checks.
Athletes that test positive will self-isolate, while still receiving access to necessary resources. They won’t return to their teams until meeting specific criteria. Those who have positive antibody tests, will take their pre-participation physicals or annual health appraisal, but will require more testing before being cleared to resume athletic activities.
This announcement comes a week after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz “relaxed” restrictions on businesses including bars, restaurants, places of worship, and entertainment venues.
The announcement does not mention anything related to fan attendance. However, I expect some form of in-person fan presence by football season.
The announcement does not mention what will occur if multiple student athletes start testing positive. This became an issue at the University of Houston, who had to suspend voluntary workouts today, after six athletes tested positive for COVID-19. Minnesota would likely go this route too, if something like that happened here.
Let’s just have Goldy come in and truck coronavirus like he does those kids at halftime. Ski-U-Mah!
Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan