Despite the Big 12 Conference canceling all sporting competitions for the remainder of the academic year, Texas Tech student-athletes could still be at risk of catching COVID-19.
Tech Athletics has responded to this risk by making plans to prepare for a possible COVID-19 case among student athletes or Athletics staff.
The Big 12 announced the cancellation of all conference and non-conference competitions on Friday. Along with the sports seasons concluding, the conference also suspended all practices, meetings and other organized gatherings until March 29. After the set date, the Big 12 will re-evaluate the situation.
Following the conference’s orders, Tech let its student-athletes go home as the university’s spring break was extended to two weeks.
Robert Giovannetti, senior associate athletics director and external operations and strategic communications at Tech Athletics, said he is aware of the student-athletes’ travels, as the staff has plans to make sure COVID-19 does not spread.
“Each team has an athletic trainer, and our trainers will be in contact with our student-athletes while they are gone,” Giovannetti said. “We’ve asked them to let us know where they will be, and we will certainly monitor their travel so when they come back, we know where they’ve been.”
While a majority of Tech’s athletes reside somewhere in the United States, several athletes live outside of the country, Giovannetti said. He and Tech are working through situations with the student-athletes to see if they can go home with the recent travel bans.
Even though no Tech student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19, Giovannetti said Tech Athletics has thought about the protocol if an athlete showed the virus’ symptoms.
“If any of our student-athletes dealing with our trainers exhibit any symptoms, we would send them to the county health officials to be tested,” Giovannetti said. “If you look at the protocol going around the country, they would then be quarantined.”
If a Tech student athlete or coach did test positive for COVID-19, the teammates and staff members that have been in contact with them would also be quarantined and sent to the county health officials to get tested.
“Fortunately right now, I know it is fluid and could change any day, but we have not had anyone report or exhibit any signs in any athletic department or on any of our teams,” Giovannetti said.
While Tech has not had any cases of COVID-19 among its student-athletes, its fellow in-state conference school Baylor has already had to take precautionary measures due to the spread of the virus. The Bears’ baseball team and the staff were issued to a self-quarantine on Thursday as they had indirect contact with three TSA agents in San Jose, California who tested positive for COVID-19.