The University of Florida has acknowledged that eleven different positive tests for COVID-19 have taken place since April. The news comes a week and a half after the announcement that no returning Gator football player had tested positive.
From Florida senior associate athletics director Steve McClain:
“Dating back to April, we’ve had a total of 11 student-athletes from several of our teams test positive. As we’ve said before, we will have positive tests and with guidance from UF Health, we feel we are well positioned to manage those cases
The confirmation came after an initial report from AllGators of SportsIllustrated. Details on which players from which sports tested positive were not disclosed. But the report does mention that one of the positive tests resulted from Florida’s Screen, Test, and Protect Program, which was a prerequisite to kick off voluntary workouts.
This felt inevitable, and that’s because it was inevitable, any way you want to look at it. It wasn’t a matter of if this disease would infiltrate the Gator athletics program, but when. Various Florida officials have been quoted saying that they fully expect to have to deal with positive tests in their programs, because this disease is too contagious and enough people aren’t taking it seriously for them not to.
It’s not like positive tests are unique to UF, either. In fact, many other places have it much worse. Clemson reported that 23 different players tested positive for the disease. LSU just quarantined 30 players because of a COVID-19 outbreak. And Boise State and Kansas State just shut down their in-person offseason workouts because of additional outbreaks there.
And even though studies indicate that for many people who get infected, the symptoms will range from mild to zero, in terms of running a college athletics program, that simply isn’t good enough. If for no reason other than the optics, this news, predictable as it may have been, throws a blinking light in front of the path back to normalcy in college athletics. This isn’t a “game over” type of setback by any means, but it’s a pretty clear reminder that we still haven’t beaten the pandemic, either.
So it’s going to be worth continuing to watch for numbers of positive tests as the summer progresses. There are protocols and procedures that will need to be followed, and if positive tests continue to pop up among the UF student athletes, it remains very much within the realm of possibility that the correct following of those protocols and procedures is going to bear a very frustrating reality as it relates to getting back the college sports that we love.