South Alabama Athletics announces plan to return to campus

Mobile County

Unedited press release from USA

MOBILE, Ala. – University of South Alabama Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann announced Thursday the department’s strategic plan to return to campus in the next month.

The process began when a sufficient numbers of tests for COVID-19 were in possession, a system for testing was identified and a timeframe for the tests and receipt of results was confirmed, proper amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) — including face coverings for all student-athletes, coaches and staff — were obtained, and sufficient cleaning and sanitation equipment and supplies were secured.  Masks will be required at all times in all facilities for all coaches and staff as well as for student-athletes with the exception of those taking part in strength and conditioning activities.  Daily screening and temperature checks will be made while proper social distancing measures will be followed.

Any student-athletes, coaches or staff experiencing any illness will not be permitted to come to campus.

“The process of bringing student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts is the first step in a long and well-planned process.  Our primary concern is the health and safety of everyone — student-athletes, coaches and support staff — involved,” said Erdmann.  “I do want to recognize the leadership of our Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Enrichment Jinni Frisbey, who oversees our sports medicine department and has assumed our point position in this process.  In addition, we are also truly fortunate to have the USA Health System and its experts as members of our team.

“We will be diligent in following our systems and procedures, and will anticipate the unanticipated to the best of our ability.”

Jaguar football coaches and the program’s support staff were permitted to return to the Football Field House at the start of this week after completing the appropriate screening and undergoing an educational session concerning process, behavior and expectations.  All individuals who have been cleared to return are expected to maintain social distancing both within the facilities including while participating in meetings, masks will be required when in the proximity of others while virtual meetings will continue when appropriate.

A group of 75 football student-athletes will be allowed to return to campus beginning Monday, with additional football and men’s and women’s basketball members cleared to come back later in the month.  Members of South’s other fall sport programs — soccer, volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country — will be permitted to return in July, and if conditions allow a small number of spring sport student-athletes will begin their return to campus at that time as well.

Football student-athletes will be assigned to strength and conditioning groups of no greater than 10, with these groups organized and assigned to enter the Football Field House at specified times to undergo screening, temperature checks and the washing of hands and arms.  The groups will be limited to specific parts of the field house; the locker room, lounge and coach’s hallway will be off limits, while access to the training room will be provided as long as proper distancing and facemasks are used.

Throughout the process, any person(s) who have tested positive will be isolated, and contact tracing will be implemented to determine what persons/groups may require inquiry and testing.  Further positive tests may warrant suspension of activities for groups or the team as a whole.

These guidelines were formed on the basis of recommendations of the Sun Belt Conference COVID-19 Advisory Panel and the NCAA Core Principles of the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport.  They are subject to change through the Department’s COVID-19 Action Team in consultation with USA Health.  The Department of Athletics COVID-19 Action Team includes:

• Dr. Joel Erdmann, Director of Athletics
• Ryan Ferguson, Director of USA Student Health
• Jinni Frisbey, Senior Associate Athletics Director/Student-Athlete Enrichment
• Dr. Andy Harcourt, Medical Director/Team Physician
• Jason Kelly, Senior Associate Athletics Director/Internal Affairs
• Dr. Daniel McCarthy, Deputy Athletics Director

For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with www.usajaguars.com, and follow the Jaguars at www.twitter.com/WeAreSouth_JAGS. Season tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).

Join the South Circle, the unrestricted giving option of the University of South Alabama Athletics.  Contributions to the South Circle directly support all 17 sports in addition to various support programming. For more information on how you can join visit: http://jaguarathleticfund.com/give

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