Kennesaw State’s football team was supposed to open its preseason camp Friday.
Instead, the university’s fall sports programs are playing a waiting game.
Kennesaw State athletic director Milton Overton said in a statement that preparations for the football, cross country, soccer and volleyball programs would be delayed until further notice.
“The start of Kennesaw State football fall camp, and voluntary activities for all sports, have been delayed to ensure we are in compliance with the NCAA Resocialization of Collegiate Sports protocols updated on Aug. 5,” Overton said. “We expect to resume athletic related activities once we have confirmed compliance with the new protocols. The health and safety our student-athletes will always be our No. 1 priority.”
Included is the new protocols include testing for the coronavirus — and a lot of it — which comes at significant expense.
All athletes are tested as they arrive on campus for the fall. Then, for in-season athletes — of which Kennesaw State has nearly 200 — the protocols require “weekly testing of all athletes, plus ‘inner bubble’ personnel for whom physical distancing, masking and other protective features are not maintained; additional testing for symptomatic and high contact risk individuals.”
However, for athletes taking part in workouts for out-of-season sports, between 25% and 50% of athletes and staff members would have to be tested every two weeks.
A recent Associated Press story quoted East Carolina athletic director Jon Gilbert, who said his department had already budgeted $100,000 for testing and supplies, but it would likely go well above that number. Gilbert also said some schools could reach as much as a cost of $500,000 depending on if there is an outbreak on campus.
A Kennesaw State athletic spokesman said there was not a specific amount of money earmarked for testing, but the athletic department was moving money around to make sure the necessary benchmarks would be met. However, the costs would be significantly more than was originally expected.
The Big South Conference, of which the Owls’ football team is a member, and the ASUN Conference, in which the Owls play the remainder of their sports, have been monitoring the situation concerning the pandemic, but neither have offered a definitive plan on fall sports.
Meawnhile, other conferences have. The Ivy League, Patriot League, Northeastern Conference, Colonial Athletic Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference have all canceled their fall sport schedules.
On Thursday, the Big Sky Conference and Pioneer League announced their intentions to move football to the spring, and there were reports that the Missouri Valley Conference — home to defending national champion North Dakota State — was primed to do the same thing.
With those announcements, it would leave only 37% of the Football Championship Subdivision still committed to playing in the fall — well under the 50% threshold needed to have a postseason tournament.
The Big South, Southern Conference and Ohio Valley Conference have yet to voice an opinion about playing a spring schedule. However, if the overwhelming number of conferences move football to the spring, it would likely mean that Kennesaw State could play football in March, April and May of 2021.