The Florida Gators have zero active student-athlete coronavirus cases, and no football player is currently in quarantine.
As college athletics attempt to transverse through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many programs are reporting and canceling collegiate gatherings including voluntary workouts.
With the Gators, according to AD Scott Stricklin, recording zero active athlete cases and with no football players currently in quarantine, there is a reasonable expectation of hope, perhaps a university provides an inherent bubble.
"Our guys have done a great job just the time they’ve been back here for the workouts that they’ve had up to this point," said Stricklin. "We’re at a stage right now, we have zero athletes who are positive. On the football team, we have zero athletes who are having to be quarantined right now. That wasn’t the case. In June, we had some positives."
Over the course of the spring and summer, the Gators reported 29 total student-athletes across several teams that tested positive for coronavirus across 238 tests. That was up from the initial 11 reported by Sports Illustrated - AllGators on June 23rd.
Yesterday, the SEC announced that the league will be going to a 10-game, conference-only schedule which is being done in an effort to create uniformity within the conference, everyone will be on the same page as far as protocols go. The health and safety of students and student-athletes will be at the very top of priority for these programs - as they should.
“The fact of the matter is in a lot of ways sports can kind of create a semi-bubble by nature," says Stricklin. "Guys tend to hang around each other. They’re around each other in competition and practice and everything else. You already kind of get that piece of it. You know our campus, because I’ve been in a lot of meetings, is going to great lengths to reengage with our students this fall in the safest way possible.
"Whether that’s having more classes online, making sure that the classes are set up in a socially distant fashion, making sure everyone is wearing face coverings. That’s the environment our athletes are going to be in."
The student-athletes are important to the university, not just because they play sports, however, but because they're students and young adults. As such, the Gators and its football team has met with all parents, with several coaches, including head coach Dan Mullen and medical personnel on the Zoom conference call.
"We’re taking every step we can to communicate with the parents of our athletes because they’ve entrusted their young people with us. We want to try to tell them everything we know even though there’s a lot we’re figuring out as we go along here.”
The Gators are trying as much as possible to keep their student-athletes safe. If the trend continues, it would be expected the SEC could still compete this fall.