Some USC student-athletes returned to campus this past Wednesday, as Phase One of USC’s return to campus for voluntary workouts began. Student-athletes were administered COVID-19 tests as part of the pre-participation process, and one of the 69 USC student-athletes has tested positive, USC announced Friday.
The Athletic’s Antonio Morales posted a statement from USC, which read in part: “Before beginning any on campus voluntary workouts this week, USC tested 69 returning student-athletes residing locally in the Los Angeles area (56 football, 9 men’s water polo, 3 women’s soccer, 1 men’s basketball). One student-athlete who was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 tested positive and is in isolation. This student-athlete had not yet begun voluntary workouts.”
In an announcement earlier this week, USC said student-athletes or staff who test positive will, “receive medical treatment and isolate consistent with L.A. Department of Public Health guidelines. Quarantine housing will be provided through USC Student Health. They cannot return to any athletic facilities until medically cleared. USC will conduct contact tracing and those who have come in contact with positive individuals will be quarantined.”
While Indiana set the bar high earlier this week, as the Hoosiers tested 187 student-athletes and staff and did not return a positive test, USC’s testing numbers are a good sign early on, and hopefully that trend continues. In looking at another program across the country, Clemson began testing on June 1 and has now conducted 430 tests with 47 positive results. The Tigers have gone from two football student-athletes testing positive as of June 9, to now 37 total a few weeks later, according to The Athletic’s Grace Raynor.
USC’s plan to bring student-athletes back to campus, which was announced by the school on Tuesday, relies on keeping a tight schedule if the Trojans are going to get the maximum amount of preseason preparation time allowable by the NCAA.
Phase One of the reintroduction process includes student-athletes who reside within roughly an hour of the USC campus. Phase Two is scheduled to begin on July 6, when student-athletes in six sports–football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s water polo–who reside farther than one hour away may return, when USC’s on-campus housing facilities become available.
Phase Three’s beginning target date is July 13, and that stage includes all new and incoming student-athletes in those six sports. July 13 is the same day the NCAA will begin allowing required football activities during a six-week preseason program gearing up for the 2020 season.
Included in USC’s announcement earlier this week was a statement from USC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman: “The reality is that we expect to have positive tests and outbreaks in our university community, including in Athletics. We have been very thorough in planning for such occurrences and to prevent the spread of the virus. Our medical and planning team has done an outstanding job in preparing protocols and procedures for a variety of scenarios related to COVID-19. We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our USC community.”
USC’s statement said that the school will only proceed to the next phase when the previous one has reached a “successful completion,” though there is no clear definition of what that entails. USC also said guidelines can change during this rapidly-evolving situation.