The president of Colorado State University promised an investigation into the athletic department’s adherence to coronavirus guidelines amid allegations that athletes were discouraged from being tested for the virus and that the department was ignoring quarantine rules.
The action comes after the Coloradan reported that players had been told not to report symptoms and were threatened with a reduction in playing time if they were to quarantine. A group of 10 individuals, comprising football players and staff members, came forward to allege that CSU was altering contact tracing reports, too.
“I think everybody could be doing a better job,” said a player who spoke to the Coloradan on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution, “but for our coaches to tell players not to tell trainers if they have symptoms because we had so many guys out is wrong.”
A football player who was similarly unnamed told the Coloradan that he believes “there is a coverup going on at CSU, but they could only cover it up so long and now that we have so many cases across athletics, they can’t cover it up anymore. It’s not about the health and safety of the players but about just trying to make money off the players.”
A member of the athletic department told the newspaper that “there are some red flags in the athletic department, but the common denominator with this administration is to protect the coaches before the student-athletes and that makes them feel more like cattle than student-athletes.”
Joyce McConnell, the university president, said in a statement that “the story raises concerns about whether the health and well-being of our student athletes is truly the top priority of Colorado State University. Let me reiterate: the health and well-being of the CSU community is our top priority.”
Rams Coach Steve Addazio said in a statement, according to ESPN, that the department has “a comprehensive covid-19 prevention plan in collaboration with the University’s Pandemic Preparedness Team which includes specific, strictly enforced processes and procedures to build and maintain a culture of safety, compliance and responsibility to all members of the football program and the community.”
“The health and welfare of our student-athletes on the Colorado State football team is our top priority, and I fully support President McConnell’s investigation into concerns about whether these protocols were properly followed by everyone involved with our program. We want every student-athlete to have confidence that we are taking every possible measure to ensure their safety, and we will continue working with the training staff, the athletic department and the University to evaluate and implement any additional steps necessary to live up to our high standards.”
The school announced Monday that it had processed 150 coronavirus tests on student-athletes, with results expected later this week. As of Sunday, 16 athletes had tested positive, with 11 of those members of the football team, athletic director Joe Parker told The Coloradan. The Fort Collins school voluntarily paused football team activities July 29.
“We take the concerns of our student athletes extremely seriously,” McConnell said. “If we learn that there are any employees of CSU athletics who do not share Colorado State University’s commitment to student health and well-being above all else, we will address the issue immediately.”
CSU has said it would follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and state health departments, and the NCAA that include testing, temperature checks, social distancing, mask-wearing and quarantining.
“This [student-athlete] population is the most tested population there is here but obviously some feel that is not a good enough job to make them feel comfortable regarding their health,” Parker said. “If that’s the feeling, we will need to amp it up.”