Are voluntary workouts putting the upcoming college football season in jeopardy?

Ryan Kostecka

The impending decision as to whether or not have a college football season this year has been as bumpy and twisted as a roller coaster ride.

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, is was widely assumed that the season (with fans) would go on scheduled as normal by the time September came around. But then as the cases began to spread and the nation shutdown, college football was put in jeopardy, and with it came a myriad of questions and concerns.

Then in late-April and early-May, it appeared as if the country was turning a corner. States began to reopen and the NCAA announced that college athletes, with strict testing, could return to their respective campuses in June and participate in voluntary workouts.

But after two weeks of players returning to campus, the novel coronavirus is rearing back its head and having a full-on assault of college athletes throughout the country.

Clemson, one of the premier programs in the country and a front-runner for the national championship, released details that the athletic department has completed over 400 tests since June 1, with a total of 47 positive results. Also, all 120 players on the football roster have been tested, with 37 (30.8%) having tested positive as of June 26.

LSU, the reigning national champions, recently quarantined 30 of its players who either tested positive or were in direct contact with a positive test. Texas Tech (23), Texas (15), Kansas State (14) and Alabama (8) are all schools who have reported a high number of positive cases.

Boise State, Kansas State and Houston have all suspended voluntary workouts due to the outbreaks.

However, Utah is choosing to not release/disclose information regarding athletes and positives tests within the football and athletic program as a whole. 

Prior to athletes returning to campus, Utah laid out a six-page plan for when kids could return. The plan, with it's multi-tier schedule, talked about testing protocols, details about how to implement its illness policy and the following quarantine procedures.

Originally, the plan seemed extremely well thought-out and answered nearly all of the questions that athletes, families and people in general had. 

Now with cases spreading rapidly throughout college football, there are new questions. But there is no mandate from the Pac-12, the University of Utah, or even Salt Lake City or the state of Utah, to report the number of positive cases — so the Utes are choosing not to participate in the release of information.

 There is a larger question at play though as well. 

With all of the cases on the rise and athletes getting sick and being effected as well, was the decision to have voluntary workouts in mid-June wrong? Obviously most people throughout the country want a season but did the NCAA jump the gun by allowing the athletes back on campus?

It's difficult to determine the outcome of that decision right now — but if the college season is eventually canceled because of the novel coronavirus, history may not be kind to those who made that decision to return early.