Ohio State is protecting itself.
The powerhouse football program began bringing players back to campus last week for voluntary workouts and the student-athletes were required to agree to a coronavirus risk waiver, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The school isn’t releasing any of its testing results for the virus, citing medical privacy concerns, even as Oklahoma State, Alabama and Houston have done so. At least eight Alabama players reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as three Oklahoma State players.
“From a functional perspective of trying to curtail an epidemic, it’s helpful for the public to know that this is going on even among the members of their beloved football team,” Michael Saag, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, told The Dispatch. “I think there’s some utilitarian benefit from a public-health standpoint.”
The Ohio State document was referred to as the “Buckeye Pledge,” as players were asked to “pledge to take responsibility for my own health and help stop the spread of the COVID-19.”
It also warned players that “although the university is following the coronavirus guidelines issued by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other experts to reduce the spread of infection, I can never be completely shielded from all risk of illness caused by COVID-19 or other infections.”
Players who declined to sign it would not be allowed to take part in team activities or use facilities on campus, though their scholarships would remain intact. It’s unclear whether any players declined to sign the waiver.
Incoming freshmen not yet 18 years old were required to have a parent or legal guardian sign the waiver.
According to the pledge, Ohio State players have to adhere to coronavirus testing guidelines, report being exposed to the virus, disclose any symptoms of the virus they may be suffering from and stay home if they feel sick. The school said it leaned on the CDC and Ohio Department of Health to come up with its guidelines.
Ohio State isn’t the only school to require players to sign a document in which they agree to follow certain health guidelines. Indiana student-athletes have to sign a waiver as well before returning to workouts next week.