Outgoing Ohio State president Michael V. Drake said the Buckeyes’ upcoming football season will depend on people following proper health guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus.


In an interview with Ann Fisher on WOSU Radio on Tuesday morning, Drake called for individuals to wear masks in public places and follow social-distancing measures, among other precautions.


"Football, and normal commerce, and our economy, and our health, are all tied together," Drake said. "It really is the behavior of the American citizenry. If you like football, and if you like the economy, and if you are pro-health in life, then you’ll act in a responsible way. You’ll wear a mask in public, you’ll keep physical distance, and you’ll wash your hands often.


"If you don’t like those things, you’ll behave in another way. The virus is just waiting for you to do that. What more can I say?"


The Buckeyes, who are scheduled to open their football season at home against Bowling Green on Sept. 5, reopened their athletic facilities earlier this month for football players to use for voluntary workouts.


Preseason activities are also permitted to begin on July 13 after a proposal was recently passed by the NCAA.


But uncertainty hangs over the college football season amid spikes in new coronavirus cases across the U.S. in recent weeks, prompting some states to roll back reopening plans.


Ohio reported 737 more cases of COVID-19 on Monday, raising its total of confirmed or probable cases to 51,046, according to data collected by the Ohio Department of Health.


Since the Buckeyes returned to campus for voluntary workouts on June 8, OSU has not publicly disclosed whether any players, coaches or athletic department staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.


An initial round of testing was conducted on players in early June, and they were required to test negative before using the facilities, which include the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and the Schumaker Complex.


Some schools, such as Houston and Kansas State, have suspended voluntary workouts because of outbreaks of COVID-19.


Drake’s final day as the university president is Tuesday. Kristina M. Johnson, previously chancellor of the State University of New York, succeeds him on Sept. 1.


jkaufman@dispatch.com


@joeyrkaufman