As students have begun to return to schools for the fall semester, COVID-19 outbreaks have been taking place across the country. And, because of that, athletics have been impacted. Such is the case at North Carolina.
After over 100 new positive tests appeared on campus, classes moved to an online format at the school and the Tar Heels shut down workouts in all athletic programs on Wednesday for 24 hours. That was then ultimately extended through Saturday. Now, though, we know when North Carolina’s team will return to action.
In a release sent out by the school’s athletic department on Saturday afternoon, North Carolina stated that multiple teams would return to workouts on Sunday. The football team, though, has elected to wait until Monday to return to workouts. A UNC official told Inside Carolina it was the football coaches’ choice to give the team Sunday off before starting back on the practice fields on Monday.
“Multiple Carolina teams — Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Volleyball — will resume athletic activities on Sunday, Aug. 23rd in order to prepare for competition,” the release read. “Football has opted to return to practice on Monday, Aug. 24. All other sports team will continue to pause athletic activities for the time being.”
The shutdown of workouts was not the first one to hit the North Carolina campus this year. In early July, the football team shut down workouts after a cluster of positive tests within the program. But despite the need to shut down workouts twice now, UNC remains optimistic at its outlook for fall sports..
As of Friday, the football program has not had any new positive COVID-19 tests in the last month, a UNC spokesperson told Inside Carolina. Additionally, North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham is not fearing the possible shutdown of a season. On “Packer And Durham” on Friday morning, Cunningham said he is still confident that there will be football played this fall because of the safety protocols in place.
“The reason I say that is we went through this,” Cunningham said. “We went through this in the summer with our teams and we had to stop practicing, let it settle down and then come back. We haven’t had a positive test in quite some time. So, when you go through the process, understand the implications of it and then do the appropriate behavior, you have the ability to do it.
“If the campus community itself can bring the numbers down — now, the difference is we were talking about a couple of hundred kids. Now when you have a large campus like ours, you’re talking about many thousands of kids. The numbers are dramatically different and so it may take longer for the campus community numbers to settle down, but I do think it is possible.”
The season opener for the football team is scheduled for Sept. 12 against Syracuse in Kenan Stadium.