Southern Methodist University’s athletic department is reportedly requiring all student-athletes to sign a liability waiver, which prevents the students from holding the school liable for anything related to COVID-19, before returning to campus for voluntary workouts, according to Forbes.
This waiver appears to differ from one being used at Ohio State in that it not only explicitly prevents SMU student-athletes from participating in workouts if they don't sign, but waives all rights to litigation once they do. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has stated that the Buckeye Pledge is more of an educational tool.
SMU athletic director Rick Hart told The Dallas Morning News that his school's waiver serves “multiple purposes,” including informing student-athletes regarding potential dangers and mitigating the institution’s risk. Developed by SMU’s Office of Legal Counsel, the document includes a line that reads, "[I] further agree to voluntarily assume all risks related to the Covid-19 virus." A signature is required from every student-athlete — or from a parent or guardian if the student is not yet 18 years old. If students refuse to sign, it will not affect their eligibility or scholarship, but they may then have to file a medical hardship waiver.
“[The waiver] acknowledges obviously that we're coexisting with a pandemic, just to be clear that, No. 1, all of our student-athletes know that there’s risk associated with returning to campus at this time and participating in voluntary workouts,” Hart told the News. “And then, No. 2, making sure that they clearly understand, if for any reason they’re not comfortable doing so, that it won’t impact their eligibility or their scholarship status."
According to Forbes, Texas has seen a recent spike in cases and the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus. On Monday, for the fourth consecutive day, the Texas Department of Health on Monday reported the highest number of coronavirus patients in hospitals since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations in the state have increased almost every day since Memorial Day.