BLOOMINGTON — Indiana athletics has paused voluntary football workouts after six tests for COVID-19 came back positive this week.
IU is not the first program to suspend workouts in the Big Ten. Both Ohio State and Maryland have done the same following positive tests.
In its first round of testing — after football and men’s and women’s basketball returned to campus in mid-June — IU had zero positive tests out of 187. The department’s second round of tests, announced a week ago, yielded four positives out of another 112 tests.
In a news release, IU said the shut down will not affect other sports holding voluntary workouts, including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey.
IU stressed that all workouts remain voluntary and that individuals who have tested positive have been quarantined.
“Per the recommendations of the IU Athletics Medical Advisory Group, each positive test results in isolation until further notice and contact tracing measures are established to detect individuals who are considered close contacts, and may have been exposed to the virus,” the release said. “These close contact individuals are also quarantined until further notice.”
IU coach Tom Allen was asked Tuesday about positive COVID-19 tests. He said “a small number” of the four positives from last week’s results were from within the football team.
“Within that number, they’re not all within our team,” Allen said. “They’re spread out.”
The NCAA on Thursday released testing guidelines for its member institutions, painting a picture of how truly difficult it may be to keep “high risk” sports going during a pandemic.
The NCAA is mandating that athletes from those sports, including football, be tested every week, within 72 hours of competition. In the case of a positive result in-season, a player will have to sit out at least 10 days. Anyone who was in “close contact” with the infected person will have to quarantine for two weeks.
IU’s athletes were required to sign a “pledge” when they returned to campus, stating they would follow guidelines specific to social distancing, reporting of COVID-19 symptoms, and general hygiene. It’s difficult for coaches to make sure all of their athletes stick to that plan.
“If we found out they weren’t doing that, we had to get all over them,” Allen said Tuesday. “All you have to do is look on social media, and you see people still refuse to follow it, and it’s frustrating. And it’s having ramifications in certain parts of the country, and the numbers reflect that.
“Once again, it’s about being unselfish, it’s about deciding to put a team in front of me, and the desire to want to play this fall, in front of my own personal desire to go out and ‘have a good time.’ You have to make some sacrifices.”
Allen acknowledged all anyone can do is try to minimize the risk.
“Bottom line, we want the athletes and their parents to feel 100% confident and to be in a good situation,” Allen said. “As we’ve always said, and we’ve said from the beginning, you can’t eliminate the risk completely.”