COVID is still impacting fall sports on all levels. Many local high school football games are being rescheduled.
There are several regional collegiate conferences will soon transition to winter indoor athletics.
What are local universities asking of their student athletes when it comes to the vaccine mandate?
While there is not a vaccine mandate for many college athletes, athletic departments strongly encourage vaccines so as to not disrupt the season.
The NCAA strongly encouraged college athletes to get vaccinated. Those who choose to not get the shot must receive frequent COVID tests.
At Edinboro University, while there is no mandate for student athletes, about 78% of student athletes are vaccinated.
“When vaccinations became a political issue, instead of a medical issue I knew we were having some issues, but the key is you want to stay out on the field practicing and playing as much as possible taking a two week hiatus because you had to quarantine really doesn’t help your chances of starting on that team,” said Gary Hanna, Head Athletic Trainer at Edinboro University.
The head athletic trainer at Edinboro University said that after the first football game of the season was canceled due to COVID concerns, coaches have encouraged more athletes to get vaccinated.
He said that other than that first game, this fall season has gone pretty smoothly when compared to 2020.
One additional challenge athletic departments will soon be facing is the transition from open fields to indoor courts.
“We all know more is coming as we move inside. Right now all of our sports are outside except for volleyball, so when you are outdoors, the transmission is not nearly as much,” said Hanna.
The director of athletics at Penn State Behrend shares similar concerns. He said that their division three athletes who are not vaccinated are tested 72 hours before games and down the line there are some other consequences.
“We do know there are some schools that we’re going to go to that are requiring only vaccinated folks on their campus. So our non-vaccinated athletes, even though they test every week cause they’re not vaccinated they’re gonna not let them on campus,” said Brian Streeter, Senior Director of Athletics at Penn State Behrend.
One official from Mercyhurst University said about 90% of their student athletes are vaccinated.
“We use schools that are losing games whether it is high school college levels due to COVID as reasons why you need to get vaccinated. Our coaches have been really proactive about that because they know at the end of the day if they have students that aren’t vaccinated we’re all taking a risk,” said Brad Davis, Mercyhurst University.
Davis said that there could be some big changes after the annual NCAA meeting coming up in January of 2022.
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