CORONAVIRUS

10 Iowa State athletes, including 2 football players, test positive for COVID-19

Cyclones say they were not 'participating in team activities at the time they were exposed'

Jack Trice Stadium is seen at a college football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice St
Jack Trice Stadium is seen at a college football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

AMES — As college athletes across the U.S. return to their respective campuses and get tested for COVID-19, athletics departments are getting put to the test in how they respond. That includes Iowa State.

ISU has announced two football players and 10 total student athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Iowa State said “none of those student-athletes were participating in team activities at the time they were exposed to COVID-19. Since that time, all football team members returning to campus have been tested. Of the 147 players and staff tested, only two of the returning players have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Iowa State’s Athletic Department is taking a number of precautions and has protocols for contact tracing as well as isolation to limit the spread of illness.”

Iowa State is not alone in dealing with coronavirus cases. Alabama reported five positive positive tests among its football players and Houston canceled its voluntary workouts after six football players tested positive. According to CNN, 11 NCAA Division I athletics departments have reported COVID-19 cases in June.

The Big 12 will begin allowing football players to participate in voluntary workouts on June 15. The other fall-sport athletes can begin voluntary workouts on July 1.

Iowa State introduced a pilot program, led by Mark Coberley, the associate athletics director of sports medicine at Iowa State. The hope was Iowa State could have a system in place to handle the returning student athletes and help mitigate the spread of the virus.

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Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell has been proud of how his players have handled, and responded to, the coronavirus and subsequent quarantine.

“This has been a fascinating situation in a lot of ways in terms of how you respond in leadership,” Campbell said during the virtual Cyclone Tailgate Tour. “You’re defined by how you respond to adversity and this situation is so unique because this all hit right as we were about to leave for spring break. We had a Thursday team meeting to address what was going on and what we were about to get into.

“For the people of my age group and the young men that we get to coach day in and day out, we’ve been blessed in life because we haven’t had to face real-life adversity like what we’re going through right now.”

Campbell’s focus hasn’t been on football as much. Instead he’s been in constant communication with his players to make sure they and their families are OK.

“The real world has hit our team, not just in sports, but in life,” Campbell said. “That’s what’s great about being a coach because we still get to educate and mold young men into men. I couldn’t be prouder of our young men over the last eight weeks.”

Campbell also wanted the leaders of the team to reach out to other players.

Quarterback Brock Purdy has done just that.

“The biggest thing we’ve taken away from this is just maintaining relationships,” Purdy said. “We had virtual meetings and stuff and I’ve been texting the offensive line and receivers every day. Mike Rose is my roommate, so I’ve been keeping in contact with the linebackers, too. We’ve all just been trying to maintain or grow our relationships just like the coaches want us to.”

It’s because of the leaders and the seniors on the team that Campbell, even through the inevitable positive COVID-19 tests, remains confident Iowa State will get through this.

“I wouldn’t want to go through the adversity we’re going through with any other group of young men,” Campbell said. “I told our kids this the day we left for spring break, ‘Advantage Cyclones.’ And that’s because of the seniors we have.”

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