Kansas State football’s summer workouts are on pause after officials reported the total number of players who’ve tested positive for coronavirus is now at 14.
In a release from the athletics department Saturday, K-State announced it has suspended the football program’s voluntary workouts for at least the next 14 days as a result of this week’s positive coronavirus results. It is unknown exactly when workouts will resume. The earliest date would be July 6, but a source told The Mercury the specific time football players reconvene won’t be determined until later.
As of Friday, K-State confirmed 14 student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning to campus this summer. K-State’s football program started voluntary summer workouts Monday, the first day Big 12 teams were permitted to do so.
“The health and well-being of our student-athletes will always be our top priority,” K-State athletics director Gene Taylor said in the release. “Following the most recent test results, we felt like temporarily pausing all football workouts and access to our facilities was the best decision for everyone. We continue to take this situation very seriously and want to do everything we can to get back to workouts soon.”
K-State is the second school to suspend summer workouts, following Houston, which did so June 12 after six symptomatic student-athletes, spread across various sports, tested positive.
In its announcements detailing coronavirus testing, K-State Athletics never has mentioned which specific sport the student-athletes play. Football players, however, are the only student-athletes allowed on campus this month. Athletes in other fall sports can return July 1, with men’s and women’s basketball players following July 6.
The number represents an increase in Riley County as a whole: The county now has 103 positives, with 12 new since Wednesday. Of those, six of the new cases are the K-State student-athletes announced Saturday, a Manhattan city health official confirmed.
Football players began making their way back to Manhattan at the beginning of the month. Immediately upon arrival, players were supposed to go into a one-week quarantine. After that week, players started to undergo testing.
It initially started well: Last week, K-State announced that 90 student-athletes who had tested for the coronavirus came back negative. There have been more than 40 tests conducted since then. In total, more than 130 student-athletes have been tested. Saturday’s updated number means more than 10% (14 of 130-plus) have come back positive. That upward trend makes K-State one of a number of college athletics programs where substantial numbers of positive tests have been reported.
Clemson announced Friday that of 315 tests conducted in its athletics department, 28 have come back positive. Of these, 23 are football players. According to the school, the majority of the players who tested positive were asymptomatic, and none has required hospitalization thus far.
Texas confirmed Thursday that 13 football players have tested positive for COVID-19. Ten more players, identified through contact tracing, are in self-quarantine but asymptomatic.
Alabama has had eight football players test positive. Iowa State has had eight student-athletes test positive as well, with two of those being football players. Even the national champions haven’t been immune.
According to a report from Sports Illustrated, at least 30 of LSU’s 115 players have been in quarantine this week. No specific numbers of active cases were given, but the 30-plus players in quarantine “have been isolated because they tested positive for COVID-19 or were found to have had contact with those who tested positive,” SI wrote. LSU’s athletics department declined to confirm the number of positives to SI.
Further, SI reported that “no LSU athlete or staff member has required hospitalization, and very few have experienced effects beyond mild symptoms.”
Some of those quarantined at LSU came after they frequented nightclubs near the school’s Baton Rouge, La.-based campus called Tigerland. The state’s Department of Health announced Friday that more than 100 people who recently visited bars in Tigerland have tested positive. The department also urged those who had frequented establishments in the area to quarantine for at least 14 days.
One difference between K-State and LSU: K-State has tested every student-athlete after returning to campus, while LSU only tested those showing symptoms or those found to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive.
Worries about the effect of the ongoing pandemic even have spread to schools that haven’t had student-athletes migrate back to campus yet.
In a story first reported by the Los Angeles Times, 30 UCLA football players signed a document demanding that a third-party official be present at all football activities to ensure proper protocols are followed to prevent further spread of COVID-19. (See full story, Page B1.)
UCLA football players are expected to report Monday to begin voluntary summer workouts.
In Manhattan, the 14 Wildcat student-athletes who have tested positive are being medically managed according to the latest guidelines from local, state, national and CDC health experts, which begins with self-isolation for 10 days and until the patient is without fever for 72 hours without medication, whichever takes longer.
K-State said its athletics department “will continue to work closely and communicate with county and university health officials to evaluate the situation and continue best practices.”