The statistics on his own campus give Washington State athletic director Pat Chun reason to be optimistic about the prospects of a fall sports season in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
But he realizes the numbers elsewhere aren’t so good.
Addressing reporters in a video conference Friday, Chun said 216 Cougar athletes had been tested for the virus and only three had drawn positive results — two of them upon returning to the campus this summer. The third, he said, was a roommate of one of the others.
The vast majority of the athletes have been tested multiple times, Chun said.
“So our positivity rate is below 1 percent,” he said. “Our student-athletes and coaches have really done an exceptional job of social distancing, masking, really trying to figure out this new environment that we have.”
But the pandemic has seen a resurgence in many parts of the country in recent weeks, a fact that hung in the air as Chun fended off repeated questions about the likelihood of a 2020 season in football and other sports. As it stands, the Pac-12 has canceled nonleague games in multiple fall sports and reportedly is considering a 10-game football season that would start in mid-September.
“You can see the challenge going on nationally,” Chun said. “I think the numbers in our league are actually pretty good, when you see across the board with the 12 schools and how they’re managing testing.
“We’re cautiously optimistic, but we just know how dynamic this environment is and how things changed quickly. At Washington State we feel great about our chances of getting ready for all of our fall sports. Hopefully the Pac-12 is with us.”
Given the amount of preseason preparation required to play football without a high risk of injury, Chun was asked how long the Pac-12 can go before needing to make a yay-or-nay call on that sport.
“I don’t have that answer for you,” he said, “just because the environment changes from day to day, it feels like. We’ve made decisions and we’ve built models that allow us time, and hopefully we can see those models through that allow our student-athletes to get to their competitive fields.”
Also unclear, he said, was the likelihood of allowing spectators at fall athletic events.
Chun said he and WSU coaches are reiterating to athletes that they can sit out team activities in the interest of virus-related safety without losing scholarhips or roster spots.
Dale Grummert may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2290.