(KMOV.com) — The University of Missouri is preparing for the return of collegiate athletics in the coronavirus pandemic—an undertaking which obviously includes a variety of challenges for the road ahead.
Coronavirus wiped out the postseasons for many NCAA winter sports, most notably the NCAA basketball tournament. It tanked virtually the entire spring sports slate, which included baseball and softball. Now, the attention must turn to the fall sports calendar as schools and conferences hope to salvage the upcoming sports schedule—of which college football is a major consideration.
With an eye on the upcoming football season, the Southeastern Conference voted this week to re-open campuses for voluntary workouts as of June 8, an important step in gearing up for a football schedule that would commence in early September.
On a radio show with Paul Finebaum Thursday, Mizzou Athletic Director Jim Sterk spoke to the necessity to balance a variety of guidelines and rules from different groups as his school works toward reintegrating various members of the athletics department back onto campus.
"It's first, with our campuses, getting staff and coaches back on campus. That's a comfort level that has to be attained," Sterk said on Finebaum's show. "Then looking at, what is it going to take to bring student athletes back? Does it comply with the county rules that you have, and state rules and the institutional—where are the institutions at? So a lot of layers that the presidents and chancellors will consider."
Sterk referenced the medical task force compiled by the SEC as another group from which the schools are taking cues throughout this process. Each member institution is represented on the task force by medical professionals from its own university.
An interesting note from Sterk during the interview pertained to the strategy his athletic department plans to employ with regard to testing for coronavirus as they work to pull off the upcoming fall sports season. Referencing testing recommendations from the medical professionals with whom his department is consulting, Sterk noted that universal daily testing for everyone that enters their facilities will not be the approach taken by Mizzou athletics, at least not initially.
Sterk said his department will test symptomatic individuals, but will otherwise focus on preventative measures as the top priority.
“We've had advice that the best prevention and the best way to handle this is doing all those preventative measures of testing temperature, keeping things sanitized, making sure that we're screening on a daily basis, wear masks if you can't keep the six-feet separation, making sure the people at risk take extra precautions, all those things to try to prevent," Sterk said. "And then if there are symptoms, then you test.
"So we're not, at this point in time, we're not going to be testing everyone as they come in. We could, if things change and the validity of the tests improve, we might do that. But our experts are saying it's better on the prevention side and then to test and trace from there.”
Mizzou's first home football game is scheduled for September 5 against Central Arkansas.
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