Ohio State offensive linemen return to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center June 8, 2020. Credit: André White | Arts & Life Producer

Ohio State football players returned to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center June 8 for voluntary workouts, but before they could pick up weights, the student-athletes had to pick up a pen. 

Returning football players were given a “Buckeye Pledge” to read over before beginning voluntary workouts. While also affirming that Ohio State would take the proper precautions to protect the student-athletes, the pledge said that contraction of COVID-19 was still possible and that each athlete would need to take additional health measures to protect both the student-athletes and the Ohio State community.

“I also understand that despite all reasonable efforts by the university, I can still contract COVID-19 and other infections,” the pledge reads. “In order to reduce my risk, I agree to be an active participant in maintaining my own health, wellbeing and safety, as well as the safety of others, by following all the guidelines and expectations outlined by the university.”

By signing the pledge, student-athletes agreed to undergo COVID-19 testing and potential self-quarantining. It also instructed student-athletes to monitor certain symptoms, including a fever, sore throat and shortness of breath, and to report any symptoms or known exposure to the athletic training staff in a timely manner.

Other guidelines included wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. 

Although the document outlines student-athletes’ responsibilities to avoid contracting the virus in areas the university cannot monitor, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith told ESPN Sunday the pledge is intended mostly to be educational. 

“We don’t look at that as a legal document. It’s a Buckeye Pledge,” Smith said. “Allow us to help you so that if we face a situation, our trainers, our strength coaches, our coaches or any athletic administrator sees a student-athlete not wearing a mask or not social distancing, we can say, ‘Hey, you made a commitment. You signed a pledge. Your parents signed a pledge. Your parents are a part of this.'”

Members of the Ohio State men’s and women’s basketball teams return to the Schottenstein Center Monday to begin workouts.