A portion of Syracuse and Florida State football players aren’t satisfied with how athletic departments are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Syracuse.com reported that football players sat out practice Thursday in an effort to be tested for COVID-19 more frequently, while ESPN reported that three Florida State receivers have spoken out about a lack of transparency in the school’s coronavirus testing. Both schools are members of the ACC, which is one of the major conferences planning to move forward with football this fall.
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According to Syracuse.com, Syracuse head football coach Dino Babers has said that players have been getting tested every other week during camp. The players want increased frequency, which is partially why they sat out practice Thursday as well as Aug. 6 and Aug. 7. The players were tested on Thursday, and will reportedly not practice again until they receive the results.
The Syracuse athletes’ concerns go beyond their own testing. They also want more transparency about what their potential opponents are doing to combat the coronavirus.
“Here at Syracuse, we have no problem,” senior defensive lineman Josh Black said on Thursday. “I feel 100 percent comfortable with all the safety protocols we have here. But it’s the whole conference when you think about bigger pictures. Are teams following these safety guidelines to a T as well as us? That’s kind of the biggest concern going on.”
Several Florida State players are frustrated with a lack of transparency within their own athletic department. ESPN reported that senior wide receiver D.J. Matthews tweeted Wednesday that he tested positive for COVID-19. The tweet was deleted, then Matthews tweeted “All the Lies smh” on Thursday.
According to ESPN, junior receiver Tamorrion Terry retweeted Matthews, adding “I can’t believe this.”
Sophomore receiver Warren Thompson tweeted “I have been lied to multiple times about the conditions of other players health as well as mine. It has been shown to myself and the rest, that our leadership is based off an ‘I’ mentality with them only worried about their own future rather than their own athletes.
“I have been ridiculed about speaking up regarding this issue and it needs to be addressed for myself to safely continue the season.
“I want to play for Florida State University and have a great season for myself and our supporters. The lies from our leaders have backed myself into corner putting my overall well being in jeopardy.”
Other FSU players have had positive things to say about the school’s coronavirus efforts, including safety Jaiden Lars-Woodbey tweeting, “the FSU Athletic training staff has been doing everything in their power to keep us SAFE!”
"We're working through the policies and procedures that are in place for us," first-year FSU head coach Mike Norvell said after Thursday’s practice, according to ESPN, adding that the players’ public commentary was disappointing, "I've been very transparent with every player I've talked to."
Florida State hasn’t released any testing numbers this summer. An ESPN source reportedly said that on Tuesday, FSU athletic director David Coburn said during a roundtable discussion with Florida governor Ron DeSantis that the school was testing weekly. The testing has allegedly occurred much less often, with results reportedly being kept from the public and players.
The FSU football program has seen upheaval throughout the summer. In early June, defensive lineman Marvin Wilson said he was boycotting workouts because of an alleged lie Norvell had told about team communication in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
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Wilson tweeted Thursday, “I feel safe with what @FSUFootball is doing for us through this pandemic and keeping us safe. Let’s play some football.”
The ACC athletes aren’t alone in speaking up. Big Ten and Pac-12 athletes made demands before their conferences postponed fall sports through 2020 earlier this week.
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