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UW-Madison Football, Volleyball Players Return To Campus On Voluntary Basis

Athletes Will Undergo Health Screenings, COVID-19 Testing This Week

Big, black badger footprints painted on the floor lead to a volleyball court. The arena is all Wisconsin red and white.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Field House. Miranda Suarez/WPR

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department announced Monday it’s beginning to bring back student-athletes this week. The decision comes nearly three months after collegiate athletics were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Football and volleyball players will return to campus on a voluntary basis for health checks and COVID-19 testing, according to a news release from the athletic department.

Strength and conditioning training will resume next week in weight rooms at Camp Randall Stadium and the McClain Center. All other athletic facilities are closed.

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There will be a limited number of athletes and staff allowed in the weight room at any time, and they’ll be required to wear masks except when in the process of a conditioning activity. Athletes will undergo daily temperature screenings. New cleaning protocols have also been put in place.

Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said the school has been working on the plan for several weeks.

“We’re very happy to be able to take this step forward, but very cognizant of the need to take great care that our people remain safe,” he said. “I want to thank our staff, the medical professionals we have worked with and our campus leadership for their efforts in helping us.”

The men’s and women’s basketball teams will be the next group to return to campus later this month, followed by the hockey teams. Student-athletes in other sports will come back on a voluntary basis later this summer if all goes well, the athletic department said.

Team meetings will still take place virtually and there will be no in-person meal service, according to the news release.

If a player is suspected of having COVID-19, they’ll be required to self-isolate until their test results are available. If they test negative for the virus and are symptom-free for 72 hours, they’ll be allowed to return to athletic activity.

If a player tests positive for the virus, they’ll be tested again 72 hours after they no longer have symptoms. If the test is negative, they’ll need to be cleared by a team physician before they can gradually resume athletic activity.

Even with some athletes returning to campus, there’s a long way to go before collegiate athletics can get back to normal.

“It’s first how do we get the students back, how do we get the student-athletes starting to work out again, and then what does practice look like?” Dr. Chris Kratochvil, chair of the Big Ten’s Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases told Wisconsin Public Radio in April. “It really is going to be a process.”

Professional sports are currently beginning to resume with safety precautions in place. NASCAR returned to racing May 17 without fans present. NBA owners and players have approved a plan to finish out the league’s season at Disney World.