As college football season approaches, the vaccine conversation for teams, coaches, and staff has moved to the forefront.
At the 2021 SEC Media Days on Monday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said that six of the 14 SEC football teams have reached an 80% COVID-19 vaccination rate. “In order for a program to avoid regular COVID-19 testing and the requirement of wearing masks indoors, it must achieve an 85% vaccination threshold,” reports ESPN.
Sankey said that forfeits could be on the table if a game is impacted by COVID.
“Your team needs to be healthy to compete,” Sankey said. “If not, that game won’t be rescheduled. And thus, to dispose of the game, the forfeit word comes up at this point.”
“We do not yet have control of the COVID environment,” Sankey said. “COVID vaccines are widely available, and they’ve proved to be high effective. They maximize our chances of returning to a normal college football experience.”
The CDC director has said that 99.5% of all COVID-19 deaths are in the unvaccinated population, reports The Associated Press.
Jim Phillips — ACC commissioner — said Wednesday that the conference will encourage, but not mandate, COVID vaccinations for their football teams. “I believe vaccines are critical … in eliminating the COVID-19 virus and its variants, but I also deeply respect that getting vaccinated is a personal choice,” Phillips said.
Vaccination has become a polarizing topic, especially when it comes to participation in college athletics. The 2020 football season was greatly impacted due to COVID issues, and conferences around the country are hoping to avoid a repeat season.
On Wednesday — ahead of next week’s PAC-12 media day — Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich said he has chosen not to receive the vaccine and will attend next Tuesday’s media day remotely.
“As the Pac-12 Conference has required that all in-person participants at next week’s Pac-12 Football Media Day be fully vaccinated, I will participate remotely and look forward to talking about our football team and the incredible young men in our program,” Rolovich said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private. While I have made my own decision, I respect that every individual — including our coaches, staff and student-athletes — can make his or her own decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. I will not comment further on my decision.”
— Nick Rolovich (@NickRolovich) July 21, 2021
Washington State Athletic Director Pat Chun said he had “multiple conversations” with Rolovich regarding the COVID vaccine.
“Coach Rolovich and I have had multiple conversations regarding his decision to not receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Chun said. “While WSU has a vaccination mandate, there are policies and procedures for employees to follow who are not vaccinated. As a department, we will continue to educate our student-athletes, staff and coaches on the benefits of vaccinations and do all that we can to protect the health and safety of those in our charge,” Chun said.
Statement from #WSU AD Pat Chun on Nick Rolovich’s decision not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. pic.twitter.com/CNZwj5124T
— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) July 21, 2021
The Cougars open up their season September 4th against Utah State. WSU had two games canceled due to COVID during the 2020 season — Cal and Washington — and finished the year 1-3.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]