As players continue to train on their own since team activities have been suspended since March 12, a return to campus facilities may not be too far away for the Ohio State football team.
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith confirmed that football players would be allowed to return to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and Schumaker Complex for voluntary workouts on June 8, with strict guidelines in place. The return is contingent upon a lifting of the NCAA’s moratorium of on-campus activities that is set to last until June 1.
“We want to provide them with the opportunity to have access to the state-of-the-art equipment that we have – also our medical people, our trainers,” Smith said. “We want to continue to make sure they’re in the safest environments possible. That’s what we feel we can provide.”
There will be many different protocols that the student-athletes will need to abide by, including temperature checks and limited group workout sizes, Smith said.
“Student-athletes will have to sign up and go through protocols, such as temperature checks and things of that nature,” Smith said. “Basically an X number of players will work out, around nine or 10, and then once they disappear the room will be cleaned for the next group to come in.”
However, Smith said that specific COVID-19 tests will not be administered to student-athletes at the training facilities.
With some student-athletes scattered around the country, Smith said that players returning from out of state would be subject to symptom checks with the possibility that they may have to self-isolate.
“They’ll go through symptom checks and based upon what our doctors say they will either have to self-quarantine for a period of time or not,” Smith said. “It depends on their individual circumstance, someone may have a condition that requires them to quarantine for a period of time, so it just depends on what their physical shares with our doctors.”
While Smith admitted that there are facilities across the country that are providing a safe environment for individuals to work out, he said that those facilities are not accessible to all of Ohio State’s student-athletes.
“We feel that the facilities that we have with the protocols that we can put in place relative to symptom checks and cleanliness and all those type of things is the best protected environment,” Smith said.
The confidence in a safe return was not only voiced by Smith, but by redshirt junior center Josh Myers.
“I could speak for pretty much everybody on our team when I say that we trust our coaches, we trust our medical staff and we know that they’re gonna try and do right by us and keep us safe while also, you know, getting work in that we need to get in,” Myers said Thursday in a teleconference with the media.
Smith, who said the pandemic has been a learning process for him, feels the month of June will provide insight into the proper way to handle a return of more sports in the future.
“We want to crawl before we walk and run,” Smith said. “Hopefully with football starting, we’ll learn some things and make sure that when fall sports ultimately open, we’ll have learned some things through our facilities, from our staff, and how to operate and make sure we can do it in a way that we can handle capacity.”