/UM Athletic Department’s response to COVID-19
An empty trackPhoto by Zoe Hall

UM Athletic Department’s response to COVID-19

An empty track
Photo by Zoe Hall

Sports are some of the most cherished activities in America. As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, we are consistently reminded of the possibility of sports being suspended.  

With the potential suspension of sports, organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the National Football League (NFL) and countless others are aiming to make a transition to sports while maintaining the health and safety of all athletes.  

Although some professional and inter-collegiate leagues have already canceled sports for the fall, this transition, has been a slow one with pages upon pages of guidelines, checklists and general information regarding COVID-19. The NCAA and CDC have been the leading sources of information and guidance for the decisions multiple leagues have been making. The University of Montevallo is no exception.  

All athletics are currently delayed until Sept. 3, but this is subject to change. This delay includes fall sports as well as pre-season practices and workouts. Once athletics do return, there will be many guidelines put in place by the athletics department. Some of these guidelines have been taken from the NCAA, federal, state, and local authorities.  

Regarding the Student Athletic Center (SAC), the weight rooms have been restricted to 50% capacity, or 60 students, with no more than five students in each room. In the cardio room, every other machine will be shut down to mitigate contact between students. There will also be an additional staff member to ensure guidelines are followed.  

Another use of the SAC for student-athletes is the numerous trainers who help maintain the health of the athletes. Various guidelines have been put in place to ensure the safety of the students and trainers. All student-athletes must schedule appointments with trainers for any form of treatment before competition and practices. There will also be a reduction of tables in the training room to ensure social distancing is followed, with a decrease to 50% capacity. An effort to isolate treatments will also be put into place, including curtain partitions or the use of plexiglass.  

The entirety of the SAC will also follow new guidelines, including the requirements of masks when possible, implementation of plexiglass and other barriers, temperature checks on student-athletes and workers and rigorous cleaning procedures. There has not been any confirmed prioritization of outdoor facilities when available. The NCAA has recommended outdoor training be prioritized over indoor training, and the most effective ventilation for indoor training is recommended. 

There has not been a full decision on the use of locker rooms but they will be inaccessible to the public.  

Another point of concern is competition between other teams and the spread of COVID-19 between athletes. When possible, UM teams will travel the day of competitions to limit hotel stays. All personnel will be required to wear masks on buses, etc.  

It is not confirmed if UM athletes will have to go through screening before and after a competition though the NCAA has recommended screening occur for all personnel before and after a competition.  

However, all students will receive free testing and be asked to download the Falcon Healthcheck app. Through the app, students will be able to do daily health checks and log potential exposure. 

If an outbreak among athletes does occur, students will be responsible for all personal healthcare expenses, unlike previously, when UM provided healthcare for all injuries and treatments during practice or competition.  

If a student is at high-risk or wishes to abstain from athletics, they can do so without repercussions. They will continue to receive financial aid. Student-athletes will also continue to receive financial aid if athletics are suspended for the year.  

Xander Swain is a beat reporter for The Alabamian. He is a second-year double major in political science and sociology. Xander plans on attending law school and studying environmental law. He loves the outdoors, and cooking for his friends in his free time.