The Ohio State athletic department has paused all voluntary workouts following the results of its most recent COVID-19 testing, the university announced Wednesday evening.
Seven teams are affected: football, men’s and women’s basketball, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. A university source said athletes are not being sent home and the hope is that workouts can resume next week.
It is Ohio State’s policy to not share cumulative COVID-19 information publicly because, the university said, it could lead to the identification of individuals affected and compromise their medical privacy. That is a more restrictive policy than many schools have adopted.
Student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for at least 14 days and receive daily checkups from the athletic department medical staff. Student-athletes with roommates must self-isolate in a designated room on campus.
Ohio State’s spring football practice ended after only three practices before the pandemic caused virtually all sports to cease in mid-March. Coaches were permitted back in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on a limited basis starting May 18.
Voluntary player workouts resumed on June 8 after they had a physical exam and were educated about safe physical distancing. Student-athletes were asked to sign a pledge that they would adhere to those safety measures.
The NCAA recently announced that mandatory workouts could resume July 13. That now seems certain to change. The Ivy League announced Wednesday that it would discontinue sports for the rest of the year.
Ohio State is believed to be the first Big Ten program to cease voluntary workouts because of COVID-19.
In the men’s basketball program, players began to arrive on campus three weeks ago while some were delayed in their travels by a week. Before being allowed to fully begin workouts, they had to first go through a week of testing and reacclimation to campus before then being evaluated by the team’s strength and conditioning staff for another week.
Full team workouts were not scheduled to take place until July 20, during which coaches could provide skill instruction. In the interim, players were relegated to small-group workouts with strength and conditioning coach Quadrian Banks or solo shooting inside the practice gym. When not working out, players were required to wear masks and socially distance, and common gathering areas such as the locker room at Value City Arena remained closed.
Following the resumption of workouts on the 20th, players were then slated to be sent home Aug. 5, where they would remain until the beginning of fall semester later that month.
Asked Wednesday if any men’s basketball players had tested positive for the virus, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said, "I don’t want to get into specifics right now about where we are with our guys just because we’ve been advised to kind of not get into any specific health issues with our team. I’d prefer to stay away from that.
"What I will say is I think the protocols in place, the testing, all that stuff, I’ve felt really good about how thorough it’s been and how protective of our players it’s been."
Dispatch reporter Adam Jardy contributed to this story.