FAU Football: Three positive COVID-19 cases pause practices until further notice

The Owls started their practices on Aug. 5 as they were following their guidelines.


While FAU was preparing for the 2020 season, three positive coronavirus cases halt practices for the FAU Football team. Photo by Alex Liscio.

Zachary Weinberger, Editor-in-Chief

FAU Football announced on its Twitter page Friday that they have paused their practices following a “small number of positive tests for COVID-19.”

Andy Seeley, Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Relations at FAU, told the University Press that three positive cases of the coronavirus within the football team prompted this announcement. Though, due to “privacy laws that prohibit disclosure of students’ personal health information,” the names of the student-athletes who tested positive will not be revealed. 

The Owls were in full swing with their practices, which started on Aug. 5, as they were preparing for the upcoming season. The state of going back on the field is in question as the team said that they will not practice again “until reviewing its next round of testing, currently scheduled for Monday.” 

The football team has its own protocols when conducting practice that involves two separate groups of players where only one group is on the practice field at a time. The team is also not allowed to have full team meetings in person.  

In a video conference earlier this month, head coach Willie Taggart talked about their plans and guidelines and how it’s been effective. 

“When they come to our building, there [are] certain doors they walk through and doors they exit through,” Taggart said. “Our guys have done a great job of wearing their masks. We can’t have our full team meeting at one time, so there’s been an adjustment from that standpoint.” 

Since returning to campus, the Owls have been testing their players at least once a week and have plans in place if a player or a staff member were to test positive for the coronavirus. 

“The plan is to test our guys weekly to make sure we’re looking out for them and everyone else that’s here,” Taggart said. “We have in place when someone tests positive, they go into quarantine and get them away from everyone and make sure we can do everything to help them while they quarantine.” 

With the news coming out of today on three positive cases on the team, the question remains if the number will go up, which is why the team is taking the necessary precautions to prevent that from happening. 

FAU is not the first team in Conference USA to delay their practices due to coronavirus concerns as UTEP and Louisiana Tech each had five and four players test positive on Aug. 9, respectively. 

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that Conference USA “is leaning toward mandatory three times a week COVID-19 testing during competition weeks.”

When it comes to the actual schedule for the Owls, FAU has had their first two games of the season against Minnesota and Stony Brook canceled, along with their Nov. 21 matchup against Old Dominion as the school itself axed their fall athletic season. 

While Conference USA and FAU have yet to announce what the plans are now with this news, the conference released their original plans on Aug. 7 where it called for teams to play eight conference games and the opportunity to play four out-of-conference games.

On a medical front, the conference also released a statement on Aug. 12 following their board of directors meeting, saying “Conference USA membership continued evaluation, including robust discussion with medical experts, on Wednesday night. Myocarditis [inflammation of the heart muscle], mental health and enhanced testing protocols remain the focus.” 

On the same day of FAU pausing their practices, over an hour later, Conference USA postponed soccer and volleyball participation to the spring semester. 

This leads to a number of possibilities with one path that can lead to not having any football this fall for the Owls. Conference opponent ODU has already canceled their fall season, the question lies if FAU will follow suit as classes start Monday.

Any further news on this issue will be found here at the University Press. 

Zachary Weinberger is the Editor-in-Chief of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @ZachWeinberger.