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Syracuse Football Players Boycott Practice Due To COVID-19 Concerns

Ross Everett
by in NCAAF on
  • There have been a number of concerns raised about COVID-19 testing and safety protocols in college football.
  • Players at Syracuse University reportedly refused to practice on Thursday and Friday due to their concerns about the coronavirus.
  • Instead of practicing, players held a series of meetings among the team and with head coach Dino Babers and athletic director John Wildhack.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the entire sports world but college football in particular has become a train wreck. Most major conferences have radically altered their schedules with at least one FBS school (Connecticut) opting out of playing at all this year. One significant reason that college football has been such a mess is the tendency of many schools to play fast and loose with the rules. Earlier this week, for example, Colorado State players and staff accused the athletic department of a ‘cover up’ concerning the severity of coronavirus risks.

On the East Coast, Syracuse University football players have refused to practice for the past two days over COVID-19 concerns. Reportedly, their concerns focused more on ACC opponents as well as non-conference opponent Liberty than what’s happening internally at Syracuse. The athletes aren’t confident that their opponents will take testing and safety as seriously as their own school. Despite the concerns only one Syracuse player–redshirt freshman defensive lineman Cooper Anderson–has chosen to opt out of the season. Head coach Dino Babers indicated that there are some other players ‘pending’:

“There’s some people that are pending, but right now he’s the only one that I’m going to talk about. We’ve got guys who have mentioned it. Guys who have talked about it. They’re going to talk things over with their parents and they’re still pondering some situations.”

Instead of practicing, the Syracuse football players held a series of team meetings some of which involved coach Babers as well as athletic director John Wildhack. On Friday, the AD released a statement reaffirming Syracuse’s commitment to stringent standards and calling upon other ACC schools to do the same:

“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. 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. “

“Our strategy includes frequent COVID-19 testing and comprehensive resources and services to support the mental, physical and emotional well-being of our student-athletes. 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. We will also encourage our fellow ACC institutions to adopt twice-weekly testing for football to foster and maintain a healthy environment for all our student-athletes to compete within.”

The ACC released their coronavirus standards late last month but from the sound of it the players at Syracuse don’t think it’s enough. Other than petitioning the conference for enhanced testing and safety protocol it’s unclear what can be done to compel other ACC schools to be more vigilant. This is even more the case for non-conference opponent Liberty. Other than threatening to call of their game they have little influence with the fundamentalist religious school. Given the tendency of religious fundamentalists to live in denial over the threat of COVID-19, the concern over testing standards at Liberty appears to be well justified.

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