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Arizona, Austin Peay Pause Sports After Positive Tests

Brock Fritz

An uptick in COVID-19 cases has caused the University of Arizona and Austin Peay State University to press pause on athletics.

Arizona announced it abandoned its plan to bring student-athletes back to campus Monday, while The Leaf Chronicle reported that Austin Peay closed all of its athletic facilities for two-plus weeks. 

Arizona’s decision is a direct result of increased COVID-19 cases throughout the state, which prompted governor Doug Ducey’s Monday order closing all gyms, bars and pools for at least 30 days. The university press release said that the decision was made after consultations with the University of Arizona Re-Entry Task Force, Campus Health Services, Pima County Health Department and other local health experts.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have made this decision with campus and community partners to pause our re-entry process,” Arizona vice president and director of athletics Dave Heeke said in the press release. “The health, safety and well-being of all members of our community is our number one priority. We will continue to work in conjunction with campus partners and our local government agencies to support and evaluate a safe and healthy return to campus.”

Related content: Colleges Take Phased Approach to Athletes’ Return

ESPN reported that the University of Arizona, which is located in Tucson, is awaiting clarification on if athletes already on campus can continue workouts. The university began allowing athletes on campus for voluntary workouts on June 15. The university tested 83 athletes since then, with just one testing positive. The state reported 3,858 new cases Sunday.

“Health and safety continue to be the guiding force in our re-entry process,” said Dr. Stephen Paul of C.A.T.S. Medical Services. “Arizona Athletics will assess when to resume its re-entry process in collaboration with the guidelines and protocols of the University of Arizona, Pac-12 Conference, NCAA, and state and local government agencies.”

Austin Peay’s decision to close facilities until at least July 16 was triggered by 11 student-athletes testing positive for coronavirus. Workouts have been paused as the university disinfects facilities and holds online trainings on how to limit the spread of the virus. The athletes that tested positive are quarantining in single-occupancy rooms in university housing. Athletes will be able to return to facilities after July 16, “only after receiving two negative COVID-19 results in a 10-day period.”

“While these positive tests are regrettable, I am encouraged that the procedures we put in place prior to the return of student-athletes worked as we expected,” Austin Peay athletics director Gerald Harrison said in a statement, according to The Leaf Chronicle. “Once we were notified of an individual displaying COVID-19 symptoms within our family we began implementing our plans, which ultimately led to the closure of our facilities for workouts. The health and safety of our Governors family is paramount.”

Related content: College Football COVID Testing Results All Over the Map

It's also happening at the high school level, as Everything Lubbock reported Monday that Levelland Independent School District in Texas has suspended workouts for two weeks after a student-athlete tested positive. Levelland athletic director and football coach Andy Correll said that the student had been to one recent skill development day, which leads athletic staff to believe that exposure is limited.

"We will continue to disinfect all facilities and equipment and feel this is a proactive choice to keep all our kids and staff safe," Correll said. "If all clear, no active incidents of exposure, then we will resume summer strength and conditioning on July 13."

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