Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott Says Most Athletes Will Be Safer on Campus Than at Home

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Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said he believes most athletes in the conference would be safer training on campus than at home, according to a report from USA Today and AZ Central Sports. Scott said in an interview that Pac-12 athletes will be tested when they return to campus for COVID-19 and for the COVID antibodies to determine if someone was previously infected and has recovered.

“Now that they’ve started opening gyms in local communities, our medical experts feel that it would be safer to be in the weight room, let’s say at ASU, than it would be at the local 24 Hour Fitness or Gold’s Gym in Tempe or somewhere else around the country,” Scott told AZ Central Sports.

“There’s a wide range of conditions for student-athletes at home and access whether it’s nutrition, training. For most student-athletes, the facilities they’ll be able to work out in are going to have the hygiene, sanitation, social distancing protections. They’re going to have the oversight of strength and conditioning coaches and the supervision that they can’t get at home. Thirdly, they’re going to have access to testing and fourth if they have the virus or have been exposed to the virus, they have world-class medical facilities at our schools.”

The antibody test, Scott said, is important because having overcome COVID “might give you some measure of immunity for some time.”

There’s still some question marks about for how long and the benefit of the antibody test.

“More importantly for our medical experts is there’s additional medical screening they want to do for any student-athlete that contracts the virus around possible impact on lungs and lung capacity, heart. There’s still so much that’s unknown about the virus, but there has been some research that there could be lung damage, heart risk and the doctors want to monitor for that.”

The Pac-12 created a COVID advisory board, adding infectious disease specialists to an existing committee responsible for athlete health and well being initiatives. That group, Scott said, has given Pac-12 schools “state of the art guidance” on safety procedures for athletes returning to campus and beginning workouts.

The Pac-12 Conference allowed voluntary in-person athletic workouts for all sports to commence on June 15. According to AZ Central Sports, eight Pac-12 schools allowed voluntary workouts this week, while UCLA is scheduled to join that group next week. Cal, Stanford, and USC have still not determined official openings for its athletic teams.

One of the biggest questions the conference is facing is the potential that football games will be played in the fall. Football is the big money maker sport in college athletics and a loss of that $100 million income would be detrimental to the schools, especially after the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was cancelled this year. Scott said he was being very cautious about predicting whether fans will be allowed at football games since information is changed daily. As lockdown restrictions ease, and people start going out more and more, Scott said:

“We’re going to learn a lot about transmission and the risk and that will inform public policy about a gathering, inside vs. outside and otherwise.”

“I would like to think, but this is subject to seeing what happens, that in big outdoor stadium there will be some number of fans socially distanced with other precautions that can watch a football game in an outdoor stadium. But I do expect that to be a local decision, by state, maybe by county about what’s possible. I’d like to think we’re going to be able to have a gradual phased-in approach at most of our stadiums across the country. That might start small then ramp up as things progress if things are going well.”

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