Just three days after Indiana University football coach Tom Allen stated his team must stay flexible to respond to obstacles that may arise because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hoosiers shut down voluntary gridiron workouts because six players tested positive.
On Tuesday, Allen conducted one of his periodic Zoom press conferences and seemed very aware that the status of his team’s current voluntary workouts — and his season — could change on short notice.
On Friday afternoon, the announcement came that the football players had to cease their workouts.
Allen noted that player safety comes first and that surprise developments have occurred and additional ones are bound to occur. He did not have an updated comment on this development Friday.
On Friday, the athletic department showed how fragile plans are for fall sports programs. Already, the Big Ten Conference announced its member teams will not be able to play nonleague football games. That wiped three opponents off the schedule: Western Kentucky, Ball State and Connecticut.
Presently, IU is scheduled to open its season Sept. 4 at Wisconsin.
The IU Athletics Medical Advisory Group approved the return of athletes to Bloomington for voluntary workouts beginning June 15.
The university has been following a detailed protocol for athletes to participate, a program that included daily medical checks and coronavirus testing.
Under the guidelines in place for IU athletes, it is required that any time there is a positive test for COVID-19, isolation is mandated and contact tracing instituted. Individuals who are found to be in close contact with the person who tested positive then must quarantine.
After a brief period ending in mid-March, IU was not allowed to conduct a regular spring football practice schedule, but the coaches supervised workouts long distance via Zoom.
This is currently a period where the football players were not together under coaches but had permission to work out on their own.
According to a statement issued Friday afternoon through the Indiana sports information office, this hiatus was described as “a pause” in voluntary workouts and only involves the football team.
Athletes who had previously been approved for the voluntary summer workout time who compete in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey are not affected by the directive stopping football practice.
During his press discussion the other day, Allen noted, “There are so many unknowns we have ahead of us.”