New U.Md. president speaks on college athletics continuing during pandemic

On his second day as University of Maryland president, Darryll Pines explains how the university plans to handle student athletics in the coming year.

Testing, daily screening and social distancing are part of the strategies to keep student athletes safe, Pines said. Student-athletes recently had to be tested before coming back for summer workouts, and they would undergo frequent screenings in what he called “a very phased approach of engagement.”

“We just had the first phase of student-athletes come back, and coaches and trainers” said Pines in a Zoom session with reporters.

When it comes to having fans in attendance for athletic events, he said if allowed, he expects stadiums to have limited capacity.

University President Darryll Pines. (Courtesy University of Maryland)

However, he said playing games in stadiums without any spectators is also on the table, citing Major League Soccer, which will be playing games in Orlando, Florida, without fans.

Members of the Big 10 Conference are working out the logistics of hosting sporting events on college campuses and are consulting other conferences within the NCAA. Pines said he estimates a possible announcement with updates in the next three to four weeks.

“Obviously, it’s getting close — we’re going to the next phase of engagement with all student-athletes,” he said.

While other universities announced their decision to cut some sports due to budget concerns caused by the pandemic, Pines said Maryland has “no intention of canceling any of our sports teams based on the current financial crisis brought on by COVID-19.”

Referring to student athletes, no matter what their sport, the university plans “to honor our commitment to them and to the coaches,” Pines said.

In mid-June, the University of Maryland released its fall semester reopening plan, which states that students, faculty members and everyone else on campus will be asked to wear face coverings and stay 6 feet apart from each other.

During the discussion, Pines was asked why bring students back to campus, noting the difficulty of making sure students follow social distancing and assuring that buildings and classrooms are sanitized constantly.

Pines, who is also a professor and dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, said that it is what the students want.

“Overwhelmingly, the students-85-90% want to be back near the campus—on the campus,” Pines said.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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