Athletics works to meet COVID’s challenges

Image courtesy FAMU athletics

Florida A&M’s Department of Athletics has been abiding by the federal  guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic one year ago, according to Keith McCluney, deputy director of athletics.

All spring intercollegiate sporting events were canceled last year, which affected student-athletes at FAMU as well as the university’s athletic department.

Football, volleyball and indoor track, did not have a competitive season during the 2020-2021 school year.

The women’s basketball season was also canceled. And the softball team had to cancel or postpone its first 11 games this spring after at least two members of the program tested positive.

The athletic department has worked closely with the university leadership and campus medical staff to operate within campus and CDC guidelines since day one, McCluney said.

These guidelines were put in place to keep student-athletes and the campus community safe during the pandemic.

Due to campus protocol and CDC guidelines being adhered to by the student-athlete population, there has been a reduction of positive cases during the past month.

“When one of my teammates tests positive the entire team has to quarantine. We haven’t had to quarantine in over two months. I see this as progress for the team,” Atiana Redding a junior at FAMU and a hurdler for the track team, said.

FAMU’s Athletic Department aims to ensure that the physical health of tis student-athletes is protected.

“I would say that spring 2020 was the most difficult because we didn’t have very much information and we were learning a lot as things were happening and changing every day,”  McCluney said.

The policies put in place in conjunction with the university have been effective in helping FAMU continue to operate and provide student-athletes a safe environment in which to train and compete, McCluney said.

Student-athletes at FAMU are required to take a COVID-19 test weekly, maintain proper social distancing, and wear a mask.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes remain our No. 1 priority,” athletic director Kortne Gosha said. “We are monitoring our results and will make informed discussions to protect each student-athlete and our campus community. We have been in constant communication with all of our student-athletes through this process.”

Positive cases within the department did not exceed the general population on campus, Gosha noted.  If a positive test is received then the athletic department immediately contacted Tanya Tatum, director of Student Health Services,  and campus protocol was activated.  At that point, the athletic department was no longer involved until the student-athlete came out of quarantine.

There have not been any updates from the university on what steps the athletic department will be taking this fall.