By: Collin Frazier
UF Athletic Director Brandi Laurita says they are encouraging athletes to get the vaccine and providing them with factual medical information
As the sports season kicks off, Oiler Nation along with the rest of the country are still in the midst of a pandemic, even with vaccinations available. This pandemic can have an effect on student-athletes traveling to other universities. Currently, the policy regarding vaccinations encourages Oilers to receive a vaccination, but not required for sports.
“We right now have the same policy as the university so we’re encouraging but not mandating vaccinations,” University of Findlay athletic director Brandi Laurita said.
“We are tracking them because our testing protocol varies the pace depending on vaccination status. Those student-athletes who are vaccinated have been eliminated from testing protocol unless they are symptomatic, and those that are unvaccinated, we are doing symptomatic testing and then they are subject to any type of surveillance throughout the year depending on the situation.”
All universities, including UF, have different policies on vaccinations, which affect testing protocols.
“We are realizing very quickly that policies are very different based on university and our conference affiliation, so we’ve had to test our unvaccinated student athletes more depending on our opponent and what conference that they’re in,” Laurita explained. “We are following our conference policy, so if we’re playing a school out of the GLBC or the GLIAC, their testing policies for unvaccinated students are sometimes different so sometimes we are testing our student athletes with a PCR test 72 hours before they compete or multiple antigen tests”.
“It really just depends on the opponent, but vaccination status is definitely affecting our protocols as we prepare for competitions as every school that we’ve played or come in contact with. Vaccinated individuals are released from testing protocols so the higher vaccination rate we have, the less student-athletes we’re testing,” she continued.
Above all else, Laurita and UF coaches are taking the time to educate and encourage students to make the accurate decision.
“We are encouraging our student-athletes to make an educated decision, what’s best for them, providing them with accurate medical information, and asking them that they are looking at medical information and research and facts not social media and opinions about vaccinations and then encouraging them to make the right decision for them,” said Laurita. “[We are] also outlining to them the things that may either limit them or the additional steps to take if they are not vaccinated. One of the big things that we are making sure they understand is that if they are unvaccinated, they are still in contact tracing protocol. So, that could affect them and their ability to compete for up to 10 days if they are in close contact with a positive case.”
With the surging COVID-19 Delta variant, nothing is set in stone. As the situation changes, so may the current policy.
“To say that we’re not evaluating our policies almost daily would be inaccurate,” Laurita stated. “We are continuing to monitor not only the health situation here on campus and in the community, but across the nation. We may see changes if we become a kind of a hotbed. We may start testing more for those that are unvaccinated as more of the vaccines become approved by the FDA.”
“[It’s] not something that we’ve had serious conversations about in athletics about mandating vaccinations, but to say that anything is off the table as we move through this pandemic would be inaccurate. We’re monitoring situations daily and making adjustments as needed to provide the fullest athletic opportunity for our student-athletes but the main priority is to keep them safe,” Laurita said.