South Carolina Football: Spring Practice No. 1

Will Muschamp

With student-athletes set to return to on-campus athletic activity in early June, the University of South Carolina Athletics Department released its protocols and procedures for keeping athletes healthy and safe. 

The university and the SEC announced Friday that football and basketball players can return to campus for voluntary workouts beginning June 8. 

The protocol developed for Gamecock student-athletes exceeds CDC guidelines. 

While this mission pertains to all student-athletes at South Carolina, most of protocols pertain to football. Details on other sports will mirror most of these details but would likely change based on facility, workouts and guidelines when they return.

All protocols and procedures will be consistently reviewed to ensure student-athletes on campus are receiving the highest quality care.

TESTING

Upon arrival at the University, all student-athletes will be given a COVID-19 and antibody test. All student-athletes must have a negative COVID-19 result before taking part in voluntary workouts or the start of practice activities to immediately learn whether the student may have the virus. The antibody test indicates if the student may have previously had the virus.

Any student-athlete who tests positive for COVID-19 will immediately be isolated away from the team and either return home or remain on campus until the end of the isolation period. The University will interview the student to trace contacts that have occurred with the other individuals. Medical staff will provide health monitoring of the student multiple times each day and football staff, dieticians, counselors, and Student Development staff will consistently keep in close contact with the student during the isolation period.

Should a roommate or member of his cluster test positive, the player(s) must quarantine themselves for 14 days from the last exposure of positive individual. Those individuals will be monitored daily by the athletic trainer. If the individuals develop symptoms themselves, they would be referred to the team physician and staff at Student Health Services.

The return to workouts would only occur after the player is symptom free for the 14-day quarantine period.

FACILITIES

All facilities that are to be used by football players have undergone a strict cleaning process to ensure that they are fully disinfected. Touch surfaces in all these facilities will be disinfected at least once per day.

There will be staggered entry and departure from the Long Family Football Operations Building. Cell phones, keys and other personal items are disinfected upon entry into these facilities.

Additional hand sanitizing stations will be in the lobby elevator, all lobby entrances, and the parking garage at 650 Lincoln, the student-athletes' on-campus housing.

DAILY PROTOCOL

A daily medical check will be administered to each student or staff member before entering the Long Family Football Operations Building. This includes a checklist of symptoms and a temperature check. Student-Athletes who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms will be evaluated by a medical professional for appropriate follow up.

All football players and staff will be required to wear face coverings in public spaces and wash their hands frequently.

Physical distancing with staff and students will be emphasized

As an added precaution, players will be divided into small clusters. This helps limit any possible exposure to COVID-19 within the football team. Workouts, housing accommodations, eating, and socializing activities will be restricted to teammates in a player's cluster. Ready-made meals will be available to all players and distributed to keep the player's cluster together.

Strict protocols are used in the weight room and athletics training spaces, using physical distancing as well as disinfecting of machines and apparatus.

EDUCATION

In addition to the rigorous safety protocols in place, there will be extensive educational efforts including videos, in-person communication and signage.

Medical staff will have an educational session next week with parents of the players on campus to provide them with information and answer questions that they have.

MEDICAL AUTHORITY

All medical decisions related to practice and competition will be made by the medical director in consultation with team physicians and other medical staff.