Liberty COVID Protocols Raise NC State Concerns

Brett Friedlander

Liberty football coach Hugh Freeze has reported that his program hasn't had a positive COVID-19 test in three weeks.

Sounds like good news, especially since the Flames are scheduled to be NC State's "and-one" football opponent at Carter-Finley Stadium on Nov. 21.

Right?

Well ........ maybe not.

You see, it seems as though Liberty hasn't actually tested anyone in its football program for the coronavirus. All it's doing is screening the players -- basically taking their temperature before practice -- because in the Freeze's words, none of them are showing symptoms.

“We screen them every single day,” the Liberty coach said in a story by the website ASeaofRed.com. “It’s work on our training staff because they line them up each day. They’ve got the blocks lined up, six foot spaces, they stand on them, they do the temperature (checks) and the questions. We’re more of the screening right now instead of full blown testing.”

Studies, however, have shown that as many as half of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, which means that the only accurate way of determining who has the virus and who doesn't is "full blown testing."

Freeze's statement and Liberty's stance on testing should send chills down the spine of coach Dave Doeren, athletic director Boo Corrigan and everyone else even remotely associated with State's football program -- which has been so diligent in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Doeren football practice in mask
NC State coach Dave Doeren wears a mask during a recent Wolfpack practiceNC State athletic photo

According to figures announced Friday, only one State athlete has come up positive for the virus in the latest round of 765 actual tests. Overall, the university has administered 1,360 tests since athletes began returning to campus for individual workouts on May 29, with only eight total positive COVID cases.

"The ACC has clear testing protocols in place," State's senior associate AD Fred Demarest said. "We have communicated those protocols and expectations with Liberty if this game is to occur."

Rather than trusting Liberty to follow those protocols and expectations or more specifcally, to accurately interpret them, Corrigan -- as well as his counterparts at Virginia Tech and Syracuse, since they're also scheduled to play Liberty -- should get on the phone, cancel the game immediately and start looking for another nonconference opponent.

Regardless of what it costs to break the contract.

It's naive at best and disingenuous at worst to proclaim that the program hasn't had any positive tests when it hasn't actually tested anyone. It's a little like Rutgers taking credit for an undefeated season in 2020 because the Big Ten canceled its season.

A program that has done such a good job protecting its athletes shouldn't endanger them by allowing them to come into contact with an opponent who has been so lax in the protection of its students.

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