It’s been 171 days since March 7. One hundred and seventy-one days since that chilly Saturday when Temple University’s men’s basketball team lost on a game-winning basket to the University of Cincinnati, and Temple women’s basketball suffered a 33-point defeat against the University of Connecticut.
Temple men’s tennis lost to Navy in Annapolis, Maryland, 4-1, but women’s lacrosse won against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
In the following hours and days, things changed in ways nobody would have predicted.
All collegiate sports were cancelled on March 12 for the rest of the 2019-2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Months later, The American Athletic Conference is introducing a college sports season filled with new guidelines abiding by local and national regulations around the COVID-19 outbreak. As several conferences cancel their season, Temple is continuing with their fall season.
Temple student-athletes will be tested once a week during the season and 72 hours before every contest to ensure nobody who tests positive is participating, said Jessica Reo, executive senior associate athletics director and senior women’s administrator.
“The testing protocols are well in place and our doctors are doing an unbelievable job,” said acting athletic director Fran Dunphy. “Our trainers are doing the same. I think all of our coaches are working really hard to make sure we maintain every health and safety aspect of it.”
Temple Athletics feels Yale University’s new COVID-19 saliva test called SalivaDirect could be a “game-changer” for college sports because it would allow for quicker test results, Dunphy added.
The Return to Participation Committee, which Reo chairs, is implementing a plan that includes education on COVID-19, provides personal protective equipment for medical staff and offers daily health screening for players entering a facility.
The differences in sports do not end once the game begins, however. The most notable change expected for this season: a significantly reduced amount of spectators, or perhaps none at all.
Temple has spoken to other teams in The American who are trying to get 25 percent of their stadium filled, but will follow whatever guidelines the City of Philadelphia has, Dunphy said.
The City of Philadelphia has cancelled all large public gatherings through February 2021 due to public health physical distancing recommendations.
Temple Football rents Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles host their home games. The Eagles announced on July 14 no fans would be allowed to attend home games, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“We talk to our doctors every day, we all reach out to different experts in our field in different places to see what everybody is doing,” Reo said. “We’re really constantly just gathering information and trying not to be surprised, but quite frankly, I’m sure we will be at some point.”
As the return committee is presented with changing guidelines from local and national levels for collegiate sports, they are working in stride to ensure Temple athletics can resume in a safe manner.
“This is a very difficult time for everybody,” Dunphy said. “This wait-and-see approach is not easy.”