WSU Athletics will only test symptomatic athletes for the coronavirus this summer

Darron+Boatright+has+been+the+Athletic+Director+at+Wichita+State+since+2016.+He+also+serves+as+a+member+of+the+President%E2%80%99s+Executive+Team+and+reports+directly+to+the+President.

FILE PHOTO/AUSTIN SHAW

Darron Boatright has been the Athletic Director at Wichita State since 2016. He also serves as a member of the President’s Executive Team and reports directly to the president.

While many colleges across the nation are planning to test all returning student athletes for the coronavirus, Wichita State Athletics will only test athletes who have symptoms this summer. 

Athletes are currently only allowed to return to campus for voluntary workouts, meaning they have to initiate the activity themselves.

“Well, there are ways that individuals can come in and get workouts in on their own right now,” said WSU Athletic Director Darron Boatright. “They have to make an appointment with the strength coach or a trainer or the coaching staff.” 

“Right now our plan is to test them if they feel symptoms or if their self-evaluation changes or if the trainers notice something.” 

Before athletes can return to campus, they have to check their temperatures and self-evaluate for any potential symptoms. If any athlete tests positive for the coronavirus, people who have been around or in contact with that individual will also be tested. 

Last week, both of the other Division-I colleges in Kansas had scares with the coronavirus. Kansas State paused voluntary workouts after 14 student athletes tested positive. The University of Kansas also had one athlete test positive out the 86 that were tested. 

Boatright said it was helpful to watch the other schools’ methods before making the decision for WSU. 

“We’re monitoring how they handle those situations and trying to come up with the best practices based on those whose student athletes are coming back to campus earlier than ours,” he said. “We’re paying attention, we communicate with athletic directors and various other administrators on weekly calls to see what they feel is working and what’s not working.”

Even with voluntary workouts on the table, Boatright said most athletes at WSU are staying in their hometowns, with some working on summer classes. Given the current restrictions, he said it’s unnecessary for some athletes to return. 

“With the limitations that we have on access to the arena and to the weight room and things, there’s really no sense in them coming back at this point.”

Some athletes have started to return to campus but primarily non-WSU teams in the Wichita area. Some WSU baseball players have returned to Wichita to stay sharp for the upcoming season.

“If there are those that are in town, they’ve been coming in fairly regularly and having their workouts,” Boatright said. “They were eager to get back into the routine.”

Freshmen student athletes will be housed similarly to any other incoming freshman to WSU, Boatright said. In late May, Vice President of Student Affairs Terri Hall said residence halls are set to be “pretty much at full occupancy” this fall, and the university hopes to avoid “tripling” or putting three people in a single space. 

Voluntary workouts will continue for basketball until July 19. After that, required summer athletic activities are set to begin, allowing coaches direct workouts for students for the first time this summer. 

Certain virtual activities may continue during that period, but virtual and in-person activities can not exceed eight hours per week. 

Summer athletic activities will last for eight weeks, or until the start of the school year on Aug. 17.