Players at Syracuse have sat out the first two practices of fall camp, citing concerns over COVID-19 safety protocols at opposing athletic programs, according to a report from Syracuse.com.
Players refused to practice on Thursday, and instead met with Athletic Director John Wildhack and head coach Dino Babers. After refusing to practice again on Friday, Wildhack issued a statement Friday afternoon.
The report stated that the players’ concerns centered around how other Atlantic Coast Conference programs, and nonconference opponent Liberty, are handling COVID-19 testing. Syracuse players did not have an issue with how their own athletic program was handling COVID-19 protocols.
“Syracuse Athletics is committed to doing everything we can to support and protect the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, our staff and the campus and Syracuse communities,” Wildhack said in a statement. “That is why, in consultation with the Onondaga County Health Department, medical professionals and public health experts, we developed a comprehensive strategy that allows our student-athletes to safely train to compete in the upcoming season.”
One Syracuse player, defensive lineman Cooper Dawson, has already opted out of the 2020 season. Babers, speaking to reporters on Thursday, said there could be more.
“There’s some people that are pending, but right now he’s the only one that I’m going to talk about,” Babers said.
Wildhack said Syracuse, at the request of the players, will increase coronavirus testing to twice per week beginning in September.
“At the request of our student-athletes on the football team, we will conduct COVID-19 testing twice per week beginning the week of September 7,” Wildhack said in the statement. “We will also encourage our fellow ACC institutions to adopt twice-weekly testing for football to foster and maintain a healthy environment.”
The ACC announced last month it will require all symptomatic athletes to be tested, even if the symptoms are minimal. Temperature checks much be conducted on every player and staff member upon entering facilities. Players and people who have been in “close contact” with players must be tested within 72 hours of each game once the regular season starts.
–Field Level Media