Texas A&M linebacker Keeath Magee was one of several Southeastern Conference student-athletes who raised some concern to SEC leadership on returning to play during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by The Washington Post.
“You guys have answered a lot of questions the best way you could, and we really appreciate it,” he said to SEC leadership during the meeting. “But as much as you guys don’t know… it’s not good enough.We want to play. We want to see football. We want to return to normal as much as possible. But it’s just that why all this uncertainty, all this stuff that’s still circulating in the air, y’all know it kind of leaves some of us still scratching my head… I feel like the college campus is the one thing that you can’t control.”
Thursday, SEC leadership announced that the 2020 football season will be played in a 10-game, conference only format, beginning Sept. 26.
According to the report, one unidentified SEC official told the more than a dozen football players that, “There are going to be outbreaks. We’re going to have cases on every single team in the SEC. That’s a given. And we can’t prevent it.”
According to the report, when one unidentified athlete asked about the long term effects of contracting the coronavirus, his question was passed to Shawn Gibbs, the dean of Texas A&M’s School of Public Health. Gibbs passed the question along again, stating, “Remember, I’m an industrial hygienist, so I'm not the medical person here.” The question was eventually answered by Marshall Crowther, a sports medicine physician at the University of Mississippi.
The SEC released a statement Saturday in response to the article, saying these meetings are intended to be confidential and an an open forum for student-athletes to engage in candid conversation.
Statement from the Southeastern Conference. pic.twitter.com/nBuwlyz8Tb— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) August 1, 2020
"The information we gather while engaging with student-athletes helps inform Conference decisions and provides an opportunity to share information with our campus leaders to further enhance our continuing support of the student-athlete experience," the statement said. "The student-athletes on the call expressed appreciation for the honest dialogue, indicated the discussion was beneficial and requested a similar videoconference in the future. As we all work to adapt to the realities of COVID-19, we will continue to support the heath of SEC student-athletes."
A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said Friday that the school plans to play a revised 10-game schedule with 50% capacity crowds for home games at Kyle Field. Ticket scanning will be touchless and masks will be required by spectators at all times, except for when eating and drinking. The SEC, as well as A&M, are finding the best answers to questions regarding the formulation of testing protocols, including quarantining procedures, to be instituted for the season, Bjork said.
“Those are all questions that we just don’t know the answer yet until we start operating this and we start practices and we start playing games,” Bjork said Friday. "Again, safe as possible, knowing that there will be risks and there will be positive cases, but how do we make it as safe as possible.”