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Coronavirus challenges college campuses, athletes

Coronavirus challenges college campuses, athletes


Arkansas State one of many sports programs tackling the problem of COVID19 among players

Courtesy of the Jonesboro Sun

JONESBORO — A survey of college campuses published Wednesday shows more than 6,300 coronavirus cases have been linked to universities across the U.S.

The survey also shows that Arkansas State University leads the state in number of cases due to seven athletes who were reported to have the coronavirus virus in June.

The survey was published by the New York Times, and the study revealed at least 6,300 cases have been tied to about 270 colleges over the course of the pandemic.

In all, only 22 cases linked to colleges have been reported in Arkansas, according to the survey, and the seven cases that occurred in Jonesboro were found in early June, said Bill Smith, A-State’s chief communications officer, on Wednesday.

“That is old, those students were athletes and they were asymptomatic,” he said.

Seven Arkansas State University athletes tested positive for COVID-19, Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said in a June 4 email.

The students who tested positive were team members for three different AState sports. Smith said in June he could not state specifically which teams the students were on, citing the students’ privacy. Arkansas Tech University in Russellville reported six coronavirus cases, while the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia each reported four cases.

The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville reported only one case, and it also involved an athlete.

Hunter Yurachek, University of Arkansas director of athletics, also announced the athletic department’s coronavirus case on June 4. Yurachek did not name the student or the sport the individual plays.

“It is important to use this opportunity to acknowledge the reality of the challenges ahead for all of us and affirm our continued commitment to the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Yuracheck stated in an email.

“As I shared previously, we knew it was not a matter of if, but rather when a Razorback student-athlete would be confirmed positive. With respect for privacy, we do not plan on announcing or detailing each case as it may arise.”

There is no standardized reporting method for coronavirus cases and deaths at colleges, according to the New York Times article, and the information is not being publicly tracked at a national level.

Of nearly 1,000 institutions contacted by The Times, some – like A-State and the U of A – had already posted case information online.

Some universities provided full or partial numbers, while others refused to answer basic questions, citing privacy concerns.

Hundreds of colleges did not respond at all.

The Times article notes that the first arrivals on campus have been athletes hoping to compete this fall.

A separate Times survey of the 130 universities that compete at the highest level of Division I football revealed more than 630 cases on 68 campuses among athletes, coaches and other employees.

Coronavirus has already started impacting the coming college sports season.

Teams from the Sun Belt have lost only a handful of nonconference games so far due to scheduling changes imposed by other leagues, according to the website,

The conference has not announced any changes to its fall schedule, other than announcing last week the start date for competition in the 2020-21 academic year will be Sept. 3.

Other Sun Belt teams reporting coronavirus cases in The Times survey include Georgia Southern 40; Georgia State, 18; Louisiana, 6; Texas State, 5.

The Patriot League and Ivy League, have decided to not hold fall sports, according to The Times.

The Big Ten and the PAC12 have announced plans to play a conference-game only schedule in the fall, while the SEC and the Big 12 are still mulling options, according to

The ACC is considering a conference-game only schedule, according to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.

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