The University of Arizona announced Monday, June 29, that its athletic department will be pausing its reentry plan after the increasing surge of positive COVID-19 cases in Pima County.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have made this decision with campus and community partners to pause our reentry process,” Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke said. “The health, safety and well-being of all members of our community is our number one priority. We will continue to work in conjunction with campus partners and our local government agencies to support and evaluate a safe and healthy return to campus.”
The UA began its reentry process for its student-athletes on June 15 and found one positive case for COVID-19 among the 83 student-athletes that have returned to campus. The athletic department confirmed that the pause was a result of the rising cases in Pima County and was not related to the lone positive COVID-19 test.
“Our mission has always been, first and foremost, the safety of our student-athletes, staff and community,” said Dr. Stephen Paul, a C.A.T.S. Medical Services physician. “Health and safety continue to be the guiding force in our re-entry process. We will continue to monitor the status and impact of COVID-19 in our community and our ongoing and safe training of student-athletes already on campus. Arizona Athletics will assess when to resume its re-entry process in collaboration with the guidelines and protocols of the University of Arizona, Pac-12 Conference, NCAA, and state and local government agencies.”
Arizona having just one positive test should be considered a huge step in the right direction after several universities across the country saw a large number of COVID-19 cases among its student-athletes.
Louisiana State University confirmed on June 20 that at least 30 players are in quarantine after they tested positive for COVID-19, according to WAFB Channel 9. Clemson University saw 28 of its student athletes and staff members test positive, 23 of them being from the football team, according to ESPN. Kansas State University and the University of Houston have also announced pauses in their voluntary workouts after several of their student-athletes tested positive of COVID-19.
Heeke also confirmed in a phone interview with the Arizona Daily Star Tuesday afternoon that the 83 student-athletes that are on campus, all from the football team, will continue their voluntary workouts. The pause applies to the small remainder of the football players that have not returned to campus yet as well as the rest of the student-athletes from their respective sport. Arizona soccer and volleyball players were scheduled to return and begin workouts on July 13 and 20, with the men and women’s basketball teams scheduled for July 27. Those reentry dates have now been delayed.
“We’re very confident in our reentry plan and the processes in place for student-athletes who are on campus,” Heeke told the Arizona Daily Star. “We just felt it was appropriate not to expand that group at this time while our community is dealing with a surge in cases and our hospitals are reaching maximum capacity.”
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