The UB athletic department announced Thursday that two student-athletes and one athletic department staff member have tested positive for COVID-19.
Athletic Director Mark Alnutt addressed the media Thursday afternoon via a Zoom video conference to give an update on UB’s COVID-19 testing process. He said that after close to four weeks of testing, UB has conducted 227 COVID-19 tests, 111 of those tests being student-athletes, and 22 being athletic staff members. Alnutt shared that 2 athletes and 1 staff member tested positive, all 3 were asymptomatic.
Alnutt said that the 3 individuals who tested positive were all out of state and went through the mandatory quarantine before participating in any athletic activity. He did not disclose the names of who tested positive and said he even waited for more athletes and teams to arrive on campus before announcing the positive tests in order to protect the individuals privacy.
Alnutt said the goal for the school’s athletic program is to “be able to provide a baseline test for all of our student-athletes prior to them involving in any type of activity here at UB.”
This includes a mandatory multi-step process to ensure all athletes are not only attended to but also taking the correct safety precautions.
The day after student-athletes arrive on campus and check into their rooms, they take a COVID-19 test first thing in the morning. They are then isolated in their place of residence until their results come back. Alnutt said it takes approximately 24 to 48 hours to get results back and that all tests are taken via a PCR live virus swab test.
Alnutt and UB have also included an “educational process” to their COVID-19 prevention plan.
“Prior to anyone stepping back on campus, they have to go through an educational process in terms of their understanding of the rules and regulations and guidelines will be,” Alnutt said. “When they enter the facilities, there is a daily screening as well, you have temperature checks, you also have a list of questions in regard to particular symptoms that might arise.”
Alnutt said players who come from COVID-19 “hot zones” are required to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive on campus. Players that are more local or don’t come from states with high amounts of COVID-19 cases can be phased in quicker.
UB says it wants to make sure all student-athletes, especially ones from “hot zones,” are doing all they can to quarantine and be in the best position possible by providing temporary housing.
“Say a student athlete comes from one of those areas and they live in an off-campus apartment with three others that might be in state or what have you,” Alnutt said. “That's not the proper way to quarantine.”
In terms of the upcoming fall athletic season, Alnutt said that he’s “cautious” but is thinking with the “glass half-full” mentality, “we have to look at all options on the table.”
“Whether there still is an opportunity to start the season on time, to delay the season, look at what the spring would look like for our fall sports, or do we just cancel the fall season in general,” Alnutt said. “We’re gonna have to be prepared for disruptions, we’re gonna have to be prepared for us to be able to pivot and make decisions on the fly.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of pressure on universities across the country in terms of their upcoming sports seasons and the financial consequences of halting athletic events, but Alnutt says he is focused on what UB can control.
Alnutt emphasized the importance of keeping all student-athletes and staff members healthy, “if you don’t focus on that and set aside what you need to do in this time, you're gonna take two steps back.”
In response to the Big Ten Conference's decision to play only in-conference games this fall, Alnutt said that UB and the MAC have discussed contingency plans.
“We’ll have to start having deeper conversations in terms of what this seasons gonna look like for the Mid-American Conference.”
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found playing video games, watching ‘90s Knicks games and arguing with people on NBA Twitter at 3 a.m.