Four sports shut down voluntary workouts due to COVID-19
Less than a week after Michigan State football halted its practices and went into a 14-day quarantine, Michigan is pausing voluntary workouts for ice hockey, volleyball, swimming and diving and field hockey, an athletic department spokesperson told The Daily.
Workouts have been paused because of both positive COVID-19 test results and contact tracing, according to a statement sent by the athletic department. The hockey team will resume workouts this week, with other programs scheduled to resume the week of August 3.
The University’s latest release last week revealed that 12 of 559 student-athlete tests returned positive, and just one of 170 staff members tested positive. Men’s and women’s basketball and football have been on campus since mid-June, and their low test rates have not forced a shut down of activities.
“I would feel good with the medical oversight of the students, student athletes,” football coach Jim Harbaugh said on a Zoom call with media in early July. “I would want the responsibility. I would want the responsibility of keeping our players safe and also educating them. I would not want to come off of that guard tower of educating and keeping our players safe.
“Now, if it comes to a point in time where you say that we can’t play, it’s obvious, it’s clear, then everybody would be reasonable and know that was the right thing to do. COVID is part of our society. Wasn’t caused by football or caused by sports. And there’s no expert view right now that I’m aware of that sports is going to make that worse. It’s part of our society, we’re going to have to deal with it.”
A spokesperson for the football program confirmed the team is moving as scheduled as of now. The NCAA is currently allowing 20-hour practice weeks, split up by up to eight hours for weight lifting and conditioning, up to six hours for walkthrough practices and up to six hours for team meetings. Helmets and pads are not yet allowed.
As for the sports whose training has been stopped, this isn’t a death knell for anyone’s season. But, like every other program in the country that’s needed to stop workouts, it highlights just how hard a season will be to pull off. As of now, the Big Ten is trying to do so by playing a conference-only schedule for fall sports. What those plans will look like two weeks — or one month — from now is anyone’s guess.
“That whole process is going about as smooth as it could, but there’ll be a lot of hiccups,” volleyball coach Mark Rosen told The Daily in an interview last week. “One of the things I’ve learned through this process is that you have to be flexible and you have to understand that things are going to change. They literally change by the minute almost.
“We know our plans might get blown up any minute. We have to be ready for that.”
Daniel Dash, Kent Schwartz, Alex Harring and Bailey Johnson contributed to the reporting of this story.