ARLINGTON, TX — Expect more COVID protocols this fall.
Despite the development of a vaccine which appears to be generally effective, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby warned there will still be discussions about health and safety protocols during the football season.
“It was a long year,” Bowlsby said at his Big 12 Media Days press conference. “Frankly, I’m exhausted.”
“Recently I reintroduced the topic whether we were going to have competition thresholds this year, what our testing protocols would look like for people who didn’t have the vaccine and I would have to say that among the athletic directors,” he said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever introduced a topic that was less warmly received than revisitation of all the protocols and things.”
Most schools are bracing for full stadiums in the 2021 football season, including the Oklahoma Sooners, but Bowlsby said discussions are ongoing as the conference cannot force anyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We don’t have the authority to mandate,” Bowlsby said. “We only have authority that’s vested in us through our boards and our ADs. We can ask those questions as to whether or not they’re going to mandate it, but generally speaking I don’t think they’re going to. Institutions in large measure are not mandating vaccines.”
Last season, while many games were postponed and rescheduled, only two contests were officially canceled. Texas and Kansas were unable to play last year, as well as Oklahoma and West Virginia.
The vaccine has raised hopes that 100 percent of all games will be played in 2021, but Bowlsby said the Big 12 is weary of the Delta variant and the added danger that it will pose to unvaccinated athletes.
“Anyone not getting vaccinated is taking unnecessary and unwarranted risk,” Bowlsby said. “The Delta variant may be a blessing because it punctuates that we’re not yet done with this yet."
All in all, while there are still dangers in the world, the conference, along with the rest of the country, is moving forward and trying to live life as close normal as it can.