UNC suspends football workouts, ACC delays Olympic sports season

A worker takes down ACC signage from Greensboro Coliseum after the league’s basketball tournament there was canceled in March (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

A series of dramatic developments related to the worsening coronavirus pandemic over the past few days have thrown the college fall sports season, including football into serious doubt.

On Wednesday, North Carolina suspended its football team’s voluntary on campus workouts after 37 of the 429 athletes, coaches or staff members that were tested for COVID-19 came back positive and are required to isolate for up to 14 days in a designated campus residence hall. Ohio State also instituted a similar temporary halt to its athletes’ workouts.

Earlier in the day, the Ivy League announced that has put all sports activities on hold through the end of the calendar year in what could be the first domino to fall toward the full cancellation of the fall sports season at all schools around the country.

Then Thursday morning, the ACC joined the growing number of sports entities taking action related to the pandemic. Although it is waiting to make a determination about football, the conference announced that it is  delaying the start of the fall season for Olympic sports.

The ruling includes all exhibition and nonconference games in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball.
“The decision allows each campus to further focus on ensuring return to competition protocols are in place to facilitate the resocialization process,” the ACC announced in a statement, adding that its decision received unanimous approval from the league’s board of directors.
According to the ACC’s release, schools “will continue with their respective return to competition protocols in anticipation of a fall season. Any rescheduling of contests will also be determined by each school.
“The league continues to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on fall schedules and competitions with the understanding that there may be future changes,” it said, “and that the priority remains the health and safety of our student-athletes.”
Division I football players are currently allowed to work out in small groups on their respective campuses, with no coaching supervision. Phase 2 of the NCAA’s re-opening plan — in which players can have up to eight hours per week of weight training, conditioning and film review with coaches — is scheduled to begin to go into effect on July 13.
While UNC is dealing with a cluster of COVID-19 cases, NC State has reported only five positives out of the 315 athletes, coaches and staff members it has tested since May 29.
Duke and Wake Forest have yet to announce any testing results.