Player confirms testing rumors, gives inside look into COVID-19 precautions


Alexander Plant | @aplant63, Sports Editor

Over the past two weeks, rumors circulated that several Alabama football players had tested positive for the coronavirus. Now, a player has confirmed to The Crimson White that those rumors are true.

The news was first mentioned in an article by BamaOnLine, which stated that at least five players had tested positive for COVID-19 following the first round of testing. The University released a statement in the June 4 report, but has yet to confirm whether the players had tested positive. 

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is a top priority,” the statement read. “Resources and protocols are in place to ensure they receive the best medical care when returning to campus. Due to privacy laws we cannot share information specific to the health of our student-athletes.”

This week, however, a player from the Alabama football team, who requested to be anonymous, gave details about COVID-19 testing and also revealed some of the steps the team is taking during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure players are ready for the 2020 season.

“The first group of guys that tested positive – anyone around them had to quarantine,” the player said. “They did another test a few days later and some of those guys tested positive.”

The player said five of his teammates have tested positive for COVID-19 in the first round of testing and are currently in isolation. In the second round, three other teammates tested positive. Other players who had previously been around the COVID-19-positive athletes are also in isolation and will not be allowed to return to workouts until they test negative twice with the nasal swab method, he said.

Safety Procedures

The player stressed that the coaches had their safety as a top priority. Team workouts, he said, have never been so spread out during his time with the team. In the 37,000-square-foot weight room, there are only 18 to 19 athletes present at one time.

When asked about the safety of workouts and the environment surrounding the team, the player said he feels very safe during the summer program. The vast majority of the team has returned and are tested two to three times per week, he said. All athletes taking part in the workouts are required to wear masks, with most players wearing compression masks that wrap completely around the head.

“When we’re doing like drills and stuff we can’t even touch each other,” he said. “It’s like pounding in our ears.”

In a press conference on June 15, University of Alabama President Stuart Bell said that the University is planning to have fall sports return on schedule and affirmed the commitment to players’ safety as student-athletes return to campus.

“We’ve brought back some of our student-athletes who will be involved in fall sports to help them begin training,” Bell said. “I mentioned the fact that I think there’s no safer place to be, and I’m talking about on a daily basis we’re making sure they are staying safe. This is the best place for those student-athletes to be right now because we watch them daily. We provide routine tests to make sure they’re staying healthy, so it’s the best environment for them.”

Fall Outlook

Bell also outlined how the University is working to ensure fall sports return on time.

“We’re working with the SEC, we’re working with the NCAA,” Bell said. “I think it’s going to look different in some way, I can’t tell you how that is today, but we know as we’re learning more every day.”

The player said that he was told testing for COVID-19 will take place throughout the season, especially during game weeks. If a player tests positive, he said they won’t be eligible to play. This kind of variable creates several potential problems for the team in the event of athletes testing positive in the fall. In the press conference, however, Bell reiterated that fall sports are very much on the table.

“I said our goal is to have fall sports and have fans be a part of that,” Bell said. “I think that continues to be the discussion. We’ve certainly made a lot of progress over the last 4 or 5 weeks.”

But the player told The Crimson White that he was skeptical of the possibility of playing in a stadium with little to no fans.

“Nobody wants to play with that,” the player said. “Nobody wants to play a game with no fans; that’s a scrimmage. That’s not a game; that’s a practice against another team.”