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ETSU to have athletes take pledge for safety

Joe Avento • Jun 22, 2020 at 7:12 PM

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State athletes will be asked to commit to a pledge when they begin to arrive on campus in earnest next month, the university’s athletic director said Monday.

Scott Carter said the school will not have athletes sign any kind of coronavirus waiver releasing the university from liability as practices begin. Instead, they’ll be asked to pledge to do the right things to mitigate the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We’ve been working on a pledge, an ETSU Buccaneer pledge, saying, ‘I pledge to be a good teammate,’ and asking all of our young people to commit to that and take care of themselves, their teammates and one another,” Carter said during a videoconference.

“I think that pledge is going to be critically important and what we’re able to require and push expectations in the way of wearing masks and working out safely, washing hands and hand sanitizer and social distancing and all the different things we’ve all learned over the last several months.”

The NCAA said football teams, along with college basketball squads, can begin organized workouts July 13. The schedule for other sports is expected to be voted on soon.

Carter said ETSU is targeting the week of July 6-10 to begin to bring athletes to campus and test them for the coronavirus. That would allow them to “hit the ground running” when organized team workouts can begin July 13.

“We don’t want to create a problem when we’ve got 100 kids in the hallway and they’re having a hard time social distancing,” Carter said. “We won’t do that. We’ll make sure we’ve got it done in proper waves, where the medical professionals can do their jobs.”

College athletes around the country have been testing positive for the coronavirus, and Carter admits the possibility of having positive tests somewhere along the way is very real.

“We’re all going to deal with it, I’m sure, at some point,” he said. “But what can we do to educate as much as we possibly can and have a plan that’s structured and as thorough as it can possibly be?”

So far, ETSU had administered 30 to 40 tests during voluntary individual workouts without a positive result. Chances are, with more than 100 football players due on campus in less than a month, there will be some positive tests.

“No one’s immune to this,” Carter said. “At some point in time we very well could have a positive test and I don’t think that’s a failure on anyone's part. It’s obviously happening all over the country.

“We’ve got to continue to encourage and coach these young people to continue to take care of one another.”

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