The University of Maryland’s football team is the latest program to announce a pause, at the very least in their voluntary workouts this summer. John Taylor of College Football Talk reported on Saturday that the Terrapins welcomed athletes and some other students back to campus last month. Since those students arrived, the athletic department has seen a rise of positive COVID-19 tests not only on the football team but on other team sports at the school as well.
The Terrapins didn’t say how many of the positive tests were football players but did say nine student-athletes came down with the virus. The school also said that because the tests were coming back positive from a number of different sports, the Terrapins felt it was better to put a pause on workouts.
“On July 7-8, the University Health Center conducted on-campus screening of 185 student-athletes and staff; nine individuals tested positive for COVID-19,” the school said in its official statement. “These nine student-athletes and staff have been notified and are currently in self-isolation, monitored by university health officials.”
The athletic department went on to say it has been working on contact tracing since the test results came back. The Terrapins said they had been working in concert with the county health department in making the decision to stop the voluntary workouts, at least temporarily.
The Terrapins are the latest but not the first, and certainly not the only program to feel it was safer to stop workouts for at least a few weeks. They aren’t even the only team in the Big Ten to take that kind of action.
Last week, Ohio State had enough student-athletes test positive for the novel coronavirus that they ended practices for the foreseeable future. On the same day, the Buckeyes made their announcement, North Carolina did the same.
Earlier that week, the University of Arizona and the University of Kansas joined the growing list of schools seeing rising positive test rates. Kansas State had already called an end for the time being to their practices as well.
On Thursday, the Big Ten conference announced if there is a season to be played in 2020, its member teams will only be playing against conference opponents. While most analysts saw the announcement as a cost-saving maneuver — no longer having to pay smaller schools large sums to travel to Big Ten stadiums — others believed it was an attempt to limit travel and exposure to COVID-19.
According to Bleacher Report, Ohio State’s athletic director, Gene Smith, told the media on the same day the conference made its announcement that he was pessimistic about the 2020 season being played at all.