John Wildhack and Herman Frazier discuss fall sports and COVID-19 testing

first_imgThe Daily Orange is a nonprofit newsroom that receives no funding from Syracuse University. Consider donating today to support our mission.Director of Athletics John Wildhack and senior Deputy Athletics Director Herman Frazier addressed police brutality, fall sports and the start of voluntary offseason workouts at a news conference Thursday afternoon.Some Syracuse athletes returned to campus and began voluntary offseason workouts last Monday, placed in quarantined “pods” of less than 10 for practice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, even more athletes nationwide have spoken out about systemic racism and police brutality amid nationwide protests.Wildhack and Frazier discussed those topics, along with other outlooks for COVID-19 testing, during the news conference. Here are three takeaways:Systemic racism and national protestsAdvertisementThis is placeholder textBoth Frazier and Wildhack opened with a statement about the recent protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Unlike his statement June 2 on Twitter, Wildhack said “Black Lives Matter” in his Thursday statement and condemned the police brutality and systemic racism that has existed in America for “more than 400 years.” Wildhack said he’s committed to action and not just to words, but when pressed about Syracuse’s three-year partnership with controversial opponent Liberty, he and Frazier both said that SU hadn’t considered Liberty’s stance on racial and social issues when scheduling them as an opponent for 2019-21.“There are a number of ACC schools who have scheduled games with Liberty,” Wildhack said. “We are in no conversations to play beyond the current contractual agreement.”Frazier spoke of his difficulties growing up in inner-city Philadelphia during the 1960s and 70s, saying that he has seen and felt the frustrations for decades. While many athletes waited until after their careers to speak up about racial and social injustices, he said he’s encouraged by the athletes and young people getting involved and speaking out during their careers. “I have spoken to many colleagues and friends over the last several days and I believe that meaningful change along with educational issues is paramount as we go forward,” Frazier said.SU football coach Dino Babers said Thursday morning that his players are “energized” to get involved, and Frazier said that Wildhack hosted a Zoom meeting with many Syracuse athletes — channeling their concerns about systemic racism and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Wildhack said that there are considerations of making Election Day a no practice day for all of SU Athletics on Nov. 3, but no definitive answers as of now. Multiple schools, including Georgia Tech, said there would be no athletic activities that day. Babers said he was hesitant to cancel a Tuesday practice in November, but he and Wildhack both want to encourage students to vote. Wildhack said the department is looking for other ways to get involved, including voter registration drives. “Over the last several weeks, I’ve spoken with head coaches, many of our staff, alumni and our student-athletes,” Wildhack said. “There are a few common themes. We need to acknowledge where we failed, we need to listen, we need to learn.” Positive COVID-19 testsAll players who returned for workouts June 8 were required to provide routine temperature checks in the two weeks prior to their arrival, Frazier said. Once the players returned to Syracuse, every athlete was tested Tuesday morning. SU is still awaiting the saliva test results, but Wildhack said the university will not disclose the total number of positive tests or the names of athletes who test positive. “We’re going to do everything we can to respect the privacy rights of our student-athletes,” Wildhack said.  Any positive test will be relayed to the Onondaga County Health Department, Wildhack said. He claimed that the number of athletes who tested positive would be “a news item.”Wildhack and Frazier both said they would like to see the Atlantic Coast Conference release COVID-19 testing guidelines, including protocols on when athletes should be tested throughout the week, for all 14 schools to follow.As of now, Frazier said athletes will be tested during the week of athletic competitions and before any game, match or meet. SU Athletics has named Frazier the infection control officer, leaving him in charge of overseeing the COVID-19 safety regulations, as well as testing and quarantining procedures.Frazier said that he also managed Syracuse athletes during the mumps outbreak of the 2017-18 academic year and has previously overseen the entire U.S. Olympic team.“In these instances, I look at this like a hospital administrator,” Frazier said. “Sometimes, the person isn’t necessarily a doctor, but someone who’s been in charge of day-to-day operations as an administrator.”Unclear details for fall sportsWildhack was unable to offer any details about what the fall Carrier Dome seating arrangement could look like due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19’s spread throughout central New York. He said the ACC athletic directors have a number of contingency plans in place that include a delayed start or a truncated season, but those plans aren’t needed yet.Several models are being consulted that relate to how many fans will be able to enter the Dome when the season begins, as well as what safety measures could be in place, Wildhack said. Everything from temperature checks to masks could be required, but the precautions will depend on what local and state officials allow by September. Wildhack said he hasn’t received word from health experts that playing in an indoor stadium could cause increase the transmission of COVID-19 than an outdoor one.Premium seats and season ticket holders, including students with season tickets, are SU Athletics’ top priorities for the coming season, Wildhack said. While a season without fans is on the table, Wildhack is optimistic that fans will be able to attend games. “There’s a lot of communication within the ACC,” Wildhack said. “You can’t state anything definitively because there’s still so much that you don’t know.” Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on June 11, 2020 at 4:48 pm Contact Anthony: [email protected]center_img Commentslast_img read more