The University of Minnesota athletics department released the following statement regarding the return of student-athletes to campus:
The University of Minnesota athletic department announced today its plans for a gradual approach to bring student-athletes back to campus. Student-athletes who choose to return to campus are doing so voluntarily, and all scholarships will be honored if a student-athlete decides not to return to campus for the fall semester.
Members of the football team will be the first to return to campus and will be followed by student-athletes for men’s basketball, women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball. Additional students will officially return to campus in the next several weeks as well.
“The health and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches and staff will always be our top priority,” said Director of Athletics Mark Coyle. “Our staff has spent the past several weeks preparing for our student-athletes to return to campus and has worked diligently to provide them with the safest environment possible. Our decision to bring students back to campus is supported by medical experts and leadership at the NCAA, Big Ten and on campus. With regard to testing for COVID-19, we have worked with numerous medical professionals and infectious disease specialists to ensure we are using the most current information and testing procedures.”
The testing of student-athletes for COVID-19 is strongly recommended by the Big Ten. Minnesota student-athletes will complete a symptom and exposure questionnaire in the days prior to being tested for COVID-19. Minnesota’s procedure involves multiple tests that include both PCR and serology. It also calls for daily screening measures, like temperature and symptom checks.
Student-athletes who have two negative PCR tests will then go through their pre-participation physical exam or complete their annual health appraisal to receive clearance to participate in athletic workouts.
A student-athlete who has a positive PCR test will enter protocol. These students will self-isolate, but will have routine access to necessary resources and will be in daily communication with members of Minnesota’s athletic medicine staff. Students who test positive for COVID-19 would be permitted to return to athletic competition after meeting specific criteria.
A student-athlete who has a positive serology/antibody test will then go through their full pre-participation physical exam, but additional testing may be needed before the student is cleared for athletic participation.
Minnesota student-athletes and staff will also participate in good hygiene practices, proper sanitation techniques and physical distancing to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. The wearing of face masks is encouraged and two-way movement will be significantly limited.
I will be curious to see if any student-athletes opt against returning to campus for the fall semester and what will happen if and when one or more of them tests positive for COVID-19. It will certainly be a summer and fall unlike any other at the University.