BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In a letter to all athletes from Indiana athletic director Fred Glass and his replacement Scott Dolson, the administrators said the resumption of any sports seasons will be made by medical professionals and not the athletic department, and if any athlete did not want to compete because of COVID-19 concerns, their scholarships will still be honored.
In the short letter, four points were pounded home to all athletes as they return to campus this month. (Several football and basketball players are already on campus)
The four key points touched on several points.
The first one was that athletes will have to follow a "COVID-19 Participant Expectations and Commitment Pledge'' when they return to campus, getting tested and then following all protocols to keep themselves and others around them as safe as possible. The letter also made it clear in its second point that this is not a waiver of any kind like several other colleges have asked athletes to sign, and that the form was "written by doctors, not lawyers.''
As of now, no Indiana athletes have said they won't participate because of the virus, but that could change now that the school has announced it will honor scholarships even if the athletes don't compete.
Lastly, Glass and Dolson made it clear that no sports will start simply because of their say-so, that the medical professionals on campus and thoughtout the Big Ten and NCAA will make those decisions.
"We would like to have athletics this season,'' the letter said. "We are preparing to have athletics this season. But that decision, like all of the decisions relating to COVID-19, will be a medical one made by doctors, not a sports one made by coaches or administrators.''
Indiana has been testing athletes, coaches and staff as they return to campus. School officials announced last Tuesday that 187 people had been tested, and all results were negative. No new figures have been announced since then.
Here is the complete copy of the letter from Glass and Dolson
- From: Athletic Director Fred Glass and Athletic Director Designate Scott Dolson
- Re: Some Important Information Regarding Your Return to Campus
- Date: June 30, 2020
- Cc: Head Coaches, Senior Staff
As we trust you already know through your coaches and otherwise, earlier this month we released the Indiana University Athletics Medical Group Phase One Restart Plan to govern when and how you may return to campus for voluntary activities. The Restart Plan was developed by our Medical Advisory Group (comprised of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andy Hipskind, IU Team Physician Dr. Larry Rink, and infectious disease specialist Dr. Tom Hrisomalos) in collaboration with IU Environmental Health and Safety and IU Emergency Management. We cannot totally eliminate the risk of COVID-19. At least until there is a vaccine, there will be risk. What we can do is have the best doctors give us the best protocols and make sure they are strictly followed. That’s what we’ve done and what we are going to keep doing.
Football, Men’s Basketball, and Women’s Basketball have already started voluntary activities. The Restart Plan contemplates other sports being allowed to return for summer activities on the following timeline: Women’s Soccer – July 6; Volleyball – July 8; Men’s Soccer – July 13; Field Hockey – July 15; Cross Country – August 18. Because of the rapid developments in best practices related to COVID-19, this timeline, and the Restart Plan itself, are considered “Phase One” and is subject to change particularly as we get closer to team practices and ultimately competitions. The Restart Plan meets or exceeds all federal, state, local, Indiana University, Big Ten Conference, and NCAA guidance relating to COVID-19.
Returning to campus for these activities is strictly voluntary. Students voluntarily returning to campus for these activities receive pre-participation training on all recent protocols required by the Restart Plan and are required to complete a reintegration phase before participating in voluntary activities. Once this is completed, you will be required to adhere to a variety of guidelines to promote your health and safety and the health and safety of others. We emphasize to you the following four points that are particularly important for students to know:
1. If you choose to return for voluntary activities, you will be required to sign and follow the “COVID-19 Participant Expectations and Commitment Pledge.” — The Pledge sets forth expectations for all students (and coaches, trainers, and others who will be engaging with students) to promote the health and safety of not only our students but the entire IU Athletics community, as well as the general IU student body, the entire IU community, and the city of Bloomington. The Pledge is made up of what at this point should be common sense expectations such as: reporting exposure to and symptoms of COVID-19; agreeing to self-isolate and participate in contact tracing if you are determined to be positive for COVID-19; and wearing a mask in public spaces, practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and taking other safety precautions. If you don’t participate in voluntary activities, you will be required to sign and follow the Pledge before you participate in practices or competitions.
2. The Pledge is not a release or waiver of liability. — The Pledge was written by doctors, not lawyers. There is no language in the Pledge that in any way waives any of your rights or releases any liability by IU Athletics. It is not, and will never be utilized as, a release or waiver of liability.
3. If notwithstanding the protocols of the Restart Plan you are unwilling to participate in intercollegiate athletics because of concerns about COVID-19, we will continue to honor your scholarship. — This is your decision based on medical considerations. If after discussing your concerns with the Chief Medical Officer you do not want to participate in intercollegiate athletics, we will still honor your scholarship.
4. The resumption of athletics will be a medical decision based on your health and safety and the health and safety of others. — We would like to have athletics this season. We are preparing to have athletics this season. But that decision, like all of the decisions relating to COVID-19, will be a medical one made by doctors, not a sports one made by coaches or administrators. If the Medical Advisory Group advises that we suspend athletics this season in whole or in part we will immediately do so.
Thank you for your attention. We will continue to keep you advised of developments.