Rutgers football has been on campus for one week and head coach Greg Schiano addressed the media on Monday to discuss the new reality that exists with the global pandemic COVID-19.
After a report from Keith Sargeant on Sunday that cited two Rutgers players had tested positive for the coranavirus, Schiano confirmed it during his media address. He stated one player tested positive before reporting for voluntary workouts last week and stayed home, while a player that did report to campus tested positive on the second round of testing on June 15.
From Sargeant’s article, Schiano said “due to that positive we have three people in our program quarantined, plus the positive, so four people total.”
Schiano said a third round of testing was given to all the players, coaches and staff on Monday. The three players currently under quarantine can resume workouts with the team if their tests come back negative.
“You can not reduce risk to zero,‘’ Schiano said. “How can you prepare for a season and eliminate as much risk as you can? You have to grow understanding of the big three: social distancing, a mask and washing our hands. We have tried to present as safe an opportunity for our players, coaches and our staff. That’s been my number one goal since this pandemic hit the United States.‘’
He continued, stating “We have a saying in our program, ‘You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.’ Well, it’s a little bit uncomfortable saying to somebody, ‘Hey, put your mask on. Or back off (to social distance).’ But we have to do that,‘’ Schiano said. “To say that we have the answers, that would be an arrogant statement. We are trying to do our best with all the information that we have.‘‘
Schiano also made the point that workouts are voluntary and if any players or staff were uncomfortable being there, they have the option not to be. There are some players that chose not to take part in the voluntary workouts taking place right now. He also stressed remote tools were being utilized with the players as well.
As for whether Schiano thinks the 2020 season will open on September 5th against Monmouth as scheduled, he kept his approach simple. “What I’ve tried to tell the team is this: ‘Right now we’re told we’re going to have a season that opens that weekend of (September) 5th and we’re going to prepare for that date. And if that date changes, then we’ll pivot and we’ll make another plan.”
In a time where there is much uncertainty in the world from week to week due to the health and safety issues that exist with COVID-19, Rutgers football has two positive factors to help deal with that new reality right now. The athletic department’s partnership with RWJBarnabas is a hugely important one during this time and Greg Schiano has the experience, the integrity and leadership skills necessary to successfully navigate the program through this challenging period.