Steve Shaw is hoping that college football officials can return to their normal processes this season. Two conferences have reportedly already earned that right by having all of their officials receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
According to Sports Illustrated, Shaw, the national coordinator for college football officials, is aiming for 100 percent of football officials to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Shaw told SI that two unnamed NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision conferences have hit the 100 percent mark.
“Without mandating it, we’re trying to encourage every official to get vaccinated. That allows them to interact with their [officiating] crew,” Shaw said. “It’s important that our officials make their own decisions to get vaccinated. It hopefully stops or slows down the spread, but if you get it, it makes the outcome better.”
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said just one league official is unvaccinated.
The coronavirus severely impacted the 2020 college football season, when officials took a self-administered COVID-19 test at home each Thursday to determine if they could travel to their game. Shaw said every conference had “one or two” positive tests each week, while officiating crews couldn’t gather in person other than riding to the stadium and during the game.
Under current protocols, unvaccinated officials will need to wear a mask during games, other than from the time the ball is snapped until the end of the play. They will also have to pay for their own weekly test and wear a mask while with their crew. Vaccinated officials won’t have to test or wear masks.
Spring sports had a relatively more typical experience in 2020-21, but COVID-19 concerns are ramping back up as the delta variant has led to another spike in coronavirus cases. SI cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding that 99.5 percent of coronavirus deaths in the United States are among the unvaccinated.
The NCAA released its 2021 Fall Training and Competition document on Wednesday.
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