FAYETTEVILLE — One of the questions posted to Arkansas’ Vice-Chancellor and Director of Athletics on Wednesday was if he’s confident the season can go on when a member of the team tests positive for the COVID-19 and he had some interesting responses to it.
“Sure, as we continue to work through that plan, the social distancing aspect,” Yurachek said. “The first part of this plan, this first phase, working out and conditioning affords us the opportunity to continue that social distancing practice. When you start practicing soccer or volleyball or football, it’s inevitable that there is going to be close contact with those student-athletes. I think we’re all holding out hope for is that we get some better information about this virus in the coming weeks that allows us to return to practice with a greater level of confidence that student-athletes wouldn’t be impacted.”
But then Yurachek made a very interesting point about meeting with specific players at each position.
“I could tell you some of the discussions we’re having on the football part of it, normally you meet with all of your quarterbacks in the same room,” Yurachek said. “Do you continue to meet like that? Do you go to Zoom call meetings where you have your first-string quarterback meet, then the second-string quarterback meets, then the third-string quarterback meets so they’re not in there together? Because, what you don’t want to have happen is the Friday before a game, your starting quarterback tests positive and because of his close contact with the second-string and the third-string and the fourth-string quarterback, you don’t have a quarterback to put out there. So, it’s changing the way our coaches in all of our sports think about how they meet and interact with student-athletes, even to a point where how they may practice moving forward.”
Dave England answered a question concerning who would get quarantined if an athlete tests positive?
“Of course the athlete that tests positive would be quarantined,” England said. “There’s a big discussion on the contact tracing about what is close contact. With the workout groups and the masks we’re wearing, that’s going to take out a lot of individuals. I would foresee that if an athlete tests positive, probably the people that’s been in close contact with him, there’s a rule that’s a six-foot rule for 15 minutes, that is one guideline. It’s very vague. But I would foresee the roommates of that athlete, for sure, being quarantined along with them.”
Yurachek, who has a son on the football team and another who is working with the coaches, admitted keeping the athletes following all the restrictions that will be placed on them won’t be an easy chore.
“It will be a challenge, but I think what will be a bigger challenge is what they have experienced over the last 8-10 weeks,” Yurachek said. “I don’t think any of those young men and women want to go through another period where they’re not able to do what they love, and that’s to practice and play their sport. We’re going to have some educational sessions with them. The social distancing piece, it can’t just be where we have a watchful eye on them in our campus venues.
“They’ve got to take some responsibility as young adults outside of our venues and when they go back to their apartments and their social settings. That’s an age that we all were at where you feel somewhat invincible when you’re 18-22 and 23. But they’ve got to take some responsibility not just for themselves but for the people that they are around. IT’s going to take a Yoman’s effort on our part to educate them, but at some point in time it’s going to take an effort on their part to realize that we’re doing this so you don’t go through what you just went through during the last 8-10 weeks.”