ARLINGTON, Texas — In his opening statement at the Big 12 Conference's Media Days, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the conference has yet to determine a set of COVID protocols ahead of the 2021 college football season.
"Recently, I re-introduced the topic that we needed to think about," Bowlsby said. "Whether we were going to have competition thresholds this year, what our testing protocols would look like for people that didn't have the vaccine."
According to Bowlsby, Big 12 coaches, who were forced to drastically change their practice plans and coaching styles due to COVID, were not keen on the thought of re-instating protocols.
"I don't know that I've ever introduced a topic that was less warmly received than the revisitation of all the protocols and things that we have gone through in the last year," he said.
With the spread of the Delta variant in states like Texas, some fear the impact it could have on stadium capacity limits this fall.
"With the Delta variant, there are good reasons that we need to continue to be vigilant, and we will be," Bowlsby said.
Schools are not required to post vaccination rates within their programs, but most coaches at Day One of Media Days said the majority of their players have gotten the vaccine.
TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson said he anticipates similar protocols to those used during the College World Series. During the CWS, players who were vaccinated were not required to undergo daily testing.
Some unvaccinated players for the North Carolina State baseball team tested positive for COVID during the world series, resulting in a mandatory forfeit in the semifinal game. Bowlsby and a few Big 12 coaches pointed to that instance as a reason for athletes to get the vaccine.
"Frankly, anyone not getting vaccinated is taking unnecessary and unwarranted risks. And that's not just student-athletes; that's anybody in our society," Bowlsby said. "I think the Delta variant may, indeed, be a blessing for us because it punctuates the fact that we're not done with this yet."
Day Two of Big 12 Media Days is set for Thursday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.