As outbreaks of COVID-19 among students has brought the University of Wisconsin to a standstill, the athletic department is also feeling the impact.
Wisconsin announced Wednesday night it was pausing workouts for football and men’s hockey for two weeks. Though the school does not report test results on a sport-by-sport basis, a UW official confirmed the break for those two teams was the result of their testing. The rest of the team on campus will continue with their workouts as planned.
“Our department has, all along, aligned with Chancellor Blank on messaging to our student-athletes the importance of safe behaviors and practices designed to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “I will continue to make sure our student-athletes and staff hear that message.
“We have been conducting our own COVID-19 testing of student-athletes and staff on a regular basis since early June and will continue to do so. Since we began testing in Athletics, our decision-making has been guided by our own test results. That continues to be our plan going forward.”
Wisconsin is not alone in pausing workouts, as more than half the Big Ten has had to do so at some point over the last two months, including Iowa last week.
The decision to do so comes as chancellor Rebecca Blank announced Wednesday the school would go to all virtual learning for at least two weeks and that two residence halls on campus were being put under quarantine. That’s a result of more than 1,000 students testing positive for the virus as of Aug. 6.
All of these moves happened as a number of schools within the Big Ten are pushing for the football season to start in early October after the league postponed the season last month. While that seems unlikely, Nebraska president Ted Carter said Wednesday that the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force is putting together plans that will be voted on “very soon.”