Amid heightened concerns for the safety of college football players, Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity on Tuesday sent a letter to donors advising them of the team’s continued preparations for an on-time start to the season.
Most Bulldogs players returned to campus the first week of June. After clearing physicals and undergoing testing for COVID-19, the team began voluntary workouts June 8 at the Butts-Mehre athletic complex.
McGarity told donors that Georgia’s workouts will continue through July 14. On July 15, the Bulldogs will join other SEC schools in transitioning into eight-hours-per-week, coach-supervised workouts and video study. McGarity also confirmed that the NCAA has granted an extra two weeks of walk-throughs and meetings to allowable activities. For the Bulldogs, that will take place from July 26-Aug. 9, when preseason camp is scheduled to open.
That’s assuming that there are no setbacks between now and then. Several major programs across the country have had to shut down voluntary workouts because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
According to published reports, more than 100 football players in Power 5 programs have either tested positive for COVID-19 or have been quarantined because of exposure to the coronavirus. That includes 23 positive tests at Clemson, 14 at Kansas State, 13 at Texas, 12 at Iowa and eight at Boise State. Most of those figures were provided by the schools.
In the SEC, there are reports of at least 30 LSU players currently under quarantine because of to exposure to COVID-19. Without providing specifics, coach Ed Orgeron confirmed Tuesday that “something happened, but we should be fine.” There also are reports of multiple positive tests at Alabama (5), Auburn (3) and Mississippi State (4).
To date, UGA has not responded to written requests for the test results of its players or even how many are participating in voluntary workouts this summer. School officials said they do not intend to share that information, which has to be forwarded to local public-health authorities.
Many of Georgia’s players are staying in university housing, while others are lodging in private rental properties.
McGarity did not address player safety in his letter, which appears on the athletic department website under the heading of “McGarity’s Minutes.” But he did address ticket-holder’s concerns about seating plans for the coming football season.
“Our goal is to be able to communicate our plan in early August,” McGarity wrote. “We want to wait as long as possible to make important decisions and ask for patience during this process. Time is on our side right now and we want to have the latest information available to inform and educate everyone on the 2020 season.”
UGA plans to conduct face-to-face instruction for fall semester, which begins Aug. 20. However, it announced Tuesday that classes will move to online-only after the Thanksgiving break. The campus otherwise will remain open.
Georgia is scheduled to open the season against Virginia on Sept. 7 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Bulldogs’ home opener is Sept. 12 against East Tennessee State.
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