The competing messages from collegiate athletic departments ever clearer

In another blow to plans to get college sports fully up and running this fall, two more prominent universities have announced that student-athlete workouts have been suspended because of coronavirus.

According to CBS Sports,

Ohio State is pausing all voluntary athletic workouts, football included, after receiving the results of COVID-19 testing of its student-athletes, the school announced Wednesday. The university did not release how many of its athletes tested positive for the virus, citing privacy concerns.

The Buckeyes are just the latest FBS program to put a halt to voluntary workouts following COVID-19 testing. North Carolina announced Wednesday that its voluntary football workouts would be paused for at least a week after an outbreak of positive tests within the athletic department.

The reason the pause at Ohio State, North Carolina and other schools is such bad news is that these test results are coming back at a time when the campuses are mostly empty. The potential for spreading is low. However, it raises the uncomfortable prospect of other student-athletes contracting coronavirus during the academic year, and, if the campus is open, raising the dangerous prospect of easily transferring it to other students, faculty and staff.

Yesterday, the Ivy League office announced that none of its 8 schools will participate in any sports events in the fall. At least one other school — Carnegie Mellon University — also chose to abandon all fall sports. These decisions make it ever more obvious that the largest athletic programs are eager to play simply because of the financial commitments they have to sponsors, television networks and to find other teams on their campus.

That will become a harder rationale to justify in the coming weeks.

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