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Big 12 Commissioner Urges Athletes to Get Vaccinated

Brock Fritz

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Wednesday that it is “very short-sighted to not get vaccinations.”

Speaking at Big 12 football media days in the lead up to the 2021-22 athletic calendar, Bowlsby said the conference is urging all athletes to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — for health and competitive reasons. However, while some schools across the country are requiring students to get the vaccination in order to return to campus, the Big 12 won’t mandate the shot for athletes.

“I think it’s very short-sighted to not get vaccinations. Even if the Delta variant weren’t around, it makes sense to get vaccinated,” Bowlsby said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. “If indeed the Delta variant is as virulent and as infectious as it’s been reported to be, not getting vaccinated, you’re rolling the dice in terms of whether you’ll contract the virus. And beyond that, for a student-athlete, you’re also rolling the ice on whether or not you’re going to be able to participate because you’re going to be in a testing protocol if you’re not vaccinated.”

The 2020 football season was heavily impacted by the pandemic, with games being declared no-contest if enough individuals from a team were in COVID protocol.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said Wednesday that “a significant amount of our team is vaccinated. I think we’re heading in, my opinion, a great direction.” He added that vaccinations are a personal choice, but that players who don’t receive the vaccination are going to be held to “a different standard, and you’re going to have the opportunity to lose games and not be available.”

According to Sports Illustrated, Bowlsby said Wednesday that most football teams in the Big 12 have reached at least a 75 percent vaccination level. Unvaccinated players will be tested regularly throughout the season, and will be subject to contact tracing and quarantining.

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