Temple Athletics is prioritizing student-athletes’ health and academic needs after the University transitioned to online learning starting Monday and all collegiate sports were called off.
On Thursday, the NCAA declared that all winter and spring championship sports would be suspended. The American Athletic Conference officially announced that all sports have been canceled for the rest of the academic year on Monday.
Members of Temple University’s athletics administration spoke about the process of moving to online courses and shutting down all sports activity.
The university is monitoring student-athletes’ health but none have shown symptoms of COVID-19 or been tested for the virus as of March 14, said Senior Associate Athletic Director Larry Dougherty.
Student-athletes have been advised to go home if possible, he added.
The majority of in-season student-athletes had not traveled outside the Philadelphia area since March 7.
The golf team competed in Aiken, South Carolina on March 9 and 10. There have been 47 positive tests for COVID-19 in South Carolina as of March 17, according to the South Carolina Department of Health. No cases have been reported in Aiken County, according to The State.
The men’s basketball team was in Fort Worth, Texas when the American Athletic Conference decided not to hold the men’s basketball Conference Championship, only hours before the NCAA’s decision. Texas has 64 cases of COVID-19, three of which are in Tarrant County as of March 17, according to the Texas Department of Health. Fort Worth is in Tarrant County.
Track and field senior middle-distance runner Millie Howard had already traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship, Dougherty said. There are 23 positive cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico as of March 17, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. Thirteen cases were confirmed in Bernalillo County, according to KRQE, an Albuquerque-based news station. Albuquerque is in Bernalillo County.
Howard may be eligible to compete in outdoor track and field next spring because the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee announced an agreement regarding eligibility relief on March 13. She would not be eligible to compete for the cross-country team in the fall, Dougherty said.
“I think [the NCAA] is going to evaluate the winter sports, which would mean she would potentially have an additional year in indoor track and outdoor track,” Dougherty said. “There’s still a lot to be worked through logistically with that decision.”
One potential ramification of the eligibility relief could require the NCAA to make an exemption on the number of scholarship players teams can carry, Dougherty said.
“Coaches have recruited freshmen to come in to replace seniors, and have offered scholarships,” Dougherty said. “You can’t take a scholarship away from a freshman if a senior wants to stay for another year.”
Incoming recruits are not the only team development difficulty faced by coaches. The NCAA has instituted a recruiting dead period until April 15, prohibiting any in-person recruiting activity. The dead period was expanded to include off-campus communication on March 16.
Temple Athletics was prepared to institute those restrictions even if the NCAA had not made the unilateral decision, Dougherty said.
Though the majority of student-athletes will not be on campus, the Resnick Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes will operate remotely, said Justin Miller, the senior associate athletic director for Academic and Career Services.
Student-athletes will have access to their tutors through Zoom, Miller said. The Resnick Center began to prepare for the change to online-only instruction as early as March 9, he added.
“I think it was about 90 tutors in total participated in an online virtual tutor training on how to use Zoom,” Miller said. “The way our tutors responded, they all bought in. They were like, ‘Yes, we want to still help. Let us know what we can do.’ Which has been great.”
The tutoring sessions will be recorded for academic integrity purposes, Miller said.
“Student-athletes can find themselves ineligible if they receive impermissible assistance,” Miller said. “So we need to still, through all of this, make sure academic integrity and earned success something that we continue to emphasize.”