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Iowa AD Barta: Athletes Have Option to Sit Out 2020

Paul Steinbach

University of Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said Thursday that student-athletes who may be uneasy about returning to their sports activities amid the coronavirus pandemic will not jeopardize their good standing with their team if they choose to sit out the year.

"If we have a student-athlete, who chooses not to return, they will still remain in good standing with their team," Barta told local reporters during a 48-minute press conference. "We will work to mitigate the concerns that they raise, but we would not [take a student-athlete's scholarship], if they felt they couldn't compete or train due to COVID-19 virus."

As reported by Hawkeye Insider, Barta said that he hasn't received any direct concerns from athletes' family members, who may have reservations about such things as widespread team travel, but he emphasized that the safety of the athletes is the athletic department's number-one priority as it continues to work through multiple issues. 

Barta also wanted to emphasize that as long as the virus is around, there will be risks in what they do. 

"Remember, as long as the virus is here, and until a vaccine is created, there will be risks," Barta said. "No matter what we do, we cannot eliminate the risks. We will work to mitigate it, and then people will have to make that choice." 

Iowa football players are scheduled to begin voluntary workouts on June 8. According to Hawkeye Insider, Barta mentioned that the athletes will be tested, undergo daily screenings, cleaning protocols and likely one entrance and exit for each facility that will be used. The Hawkeyes are scheduled to begin their 2020 season on September 5 when they host Northern Iowa.

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