Last week a student-athlete at the University of Arkansas tested positive for coronavirus. Also during the same week, seven Arkansas State University student-athletes tested positive for coronavirus. All were asymptomatic.
The Razorbacks began voluntary workouts today on the Hill. Social distancing measures and CDC guidelines are expected to be followed.
Institutions all over the country are having to make fiscal decisions within their athletic program, which is a direct result of the pandemic.
Neither of the two Football Bowl Subdivison programs in the state of Arkansas can withstand that financial hit.
"As we prepare to welcome back a group of student-athletes to our campus for voluntary workouts on June 8, we have received notification of our first Razorback student-athlete with COVID-19," Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. "The positive result was confirmed based on the results of a test conducted last week. I am pleased to report the student-athlete is doing well and self-isolating off campus.
"Our protocol has been enacted with a continued focus on providing the student-athlete with needed medical care and support while mitigating risk to others. As I shared previously, we knew it was not a matter of if, but rather when a Razorback student-athlete would be confirmed positive. With respect for privacy, we do not plan on announcing or detailing each case as it may arise. However, it is important to use this opportunity to acknowledge the reality of the challenges ahead for all of us and affirm our continued commitment to the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff."
As summer workouts continue in-person, the number of COVID-19 cases may possibly go up. At what price is the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees willing to pay if a student-athlete has to be hospitalized?
Yurachek and head coach Sam Pittman have a lot on their plates going forward for the Hogs.
With Arkansas State's placement within the Sun Belt Conference, the Red Wolves cannot afford the revenue loss through sports. Although a small percentage of Red Wolves are infected, the ASU administration will make sure their sports teams are healthy with protocols in place by the start of the fall semester.
Arkansas State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse released a statement last Thursday, after learning the results of the athletes Wednesday night.
Damphousse said contact tracing has started, so anyone who has been exposed to any of the seven student-athletes will be required to quarantine for 14 days as designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This is a day that we knew would come, not just at A-State, but for colleges and universities across America," Damphousse said.
An Arkansas State spokesman also said he was unsure of how many athletes have been tested since they began returning to campus for voluntary workouts after the pandemic.