Texas Athletics safety measures and education in place for student-athlete protection

When The University of Texas Football student-athletes returned to campus to be on-boarded for voluntary off-season workouts on June 13, The University implemented rigorous policies and procedures aimed at ensuring the safest possible return to athletics participation. Now with Longhorn Football, Soccer and Volleyball kicking off their fall training camps and team practices this week, as well as Men’s and Women’s Basketball holding off-season training sessions, the number of student-athletes testing positive or being identified in contact tracing has dropped dramatically in the past few weeks. The training, education and health and safety management are proving beneficial in this new environment for Texas’ student-athletes. The plans for continued measures, as well as increased testing as practices begin, are critical as Longhorn sports move forward. Remaining student-athletes in all other sports – freshmen, transfers and upperclassmen – are scheduled for return and physicals, testing and orientation programming August 20-25.

The Texas Athletics health and safety protocols, created by our Student-Athlete Return to Campus task force, are being closely monitored by our medical professionals in collaboration with University Health Services, UT Health Austin and Dell Medical School public health officials. All team activities, performed under the supervision of UT’s Sports Medicine and Strength & Conditioning staffs, are monitored, reviewed, and adapted when necessary to meet or exceed the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC), NCAA, and Big 12 Conference guidelines.

“Our number one priority will always be our student-athletes,” said Vice President and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte. “Their health and safety is paramount, and our Texas Athletics team has been working tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to not only put the guidelines, procedures and protocols in place to provide the safest environment possible, but also to educate, train and prepare them for all of the best practices to avoid the spread of the virus. We have five of our teams on campus now, and we are so proud of how they have managed this very challenging time, and we’re continuing to prepare them for all that is ahead. Most importantly, at the end of the day, we want our student-athletes, every single one of them, to be in the best environment possible and continue to have every possible resource necessary to excel at the very high level they are accustomed to.

“We’re so proud of the how our entire Texas Athletics team has managed this health crisis, but most importantly, the trust and understanding our medical team has established with our student-athletes, coaches and teams. They are on top of everything, constantly communicating, helping to educate and answering every question, while providing all the tools to help the student-athletes take care of themselves and those around them. It’s just been a truly awesome effort all the way around.”

With the recent NCAA safety guidelines that were announced and the national dialogue on the subject, Texas Athletics is positioned to go above and beyond the standards being established, including:

• Education and information sessions provided to each team, along with guidebooks for all policies and procedures; medical personnel are available to meet individually with any student-athlete at his/her request. Texas Athletics Guidebooks and Updates

• A third-party testing agency/lab and campus health assist in surveillance testing; sports medicine personnel perform sample collection, while St. David’s Health Care personnel provide quality assurance; clinical testing of symptomatic individuals performed in collaboration with University Health Services and UT Health Austin.

• Reporting avenues for suspected policy and procedure violations currently exist within Texas Athletics and University Compliance.

• Mandatory daily symptom screening for all student-athletes, coaches, and staff to assist in early identification of those who may be ill.

• Usage of technology to detect if an individual is non-compliant with wearing a face covering; face coverings are mandatory in all campus buildings.

• Additional usage of technology to detect elevated temperature upon facility arrival.

• Any person who tests positive or exhibits symptoms is immediately isolated.

• Immediate contact tracing is performed for all presumed positives (do not await positive result); contact tracing performed in consultation with campus health officials.

• Testing for those who have direct contact with student-athletes (coaches, staff, athletic trainers, dietitians, etc.) is performed in accordance with NCAA guidance.

• In-season surveillance testing will exceed minimum standards set by the NCAA; in-season testing of high-risk sports will occur twice weekly at a minimum; medium and low risk sports, and out-of-season sports, will be subject to surveillance testing at a frequency appropriate for the level of risk; testing will occur as close to competition as practicable.

• Adherence to strict self-isolation guidelines for student-athletes who test positive, and self-quarantine guidelines for those determined to be high-risk close contacts.

• The athletic scholarship will remain in place for any student-athlete who elects to opt out of participation for COVID-19 health and safety concerns.

• Aid will be maintained for student-athletes in the event the season is cancelled.

• Texas Athletics has not and will not use COVID-19 liability waivers.

• A medical hardship waiver will be sought for any student-athlete who contracts COVID-19 and remains incapacitated for the duration of the season, or as directed by NCAA guidance.

• Texas Athletics provides coverage of medical claims for student-athletes during the period in which he/she is enrolled; and provides extended medical benefits for two years after departure from campus.

“Our current situation reflects the commitment our student-athletes have demonstrated in keeping themselves and their teammates healthy,” said Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director for Performance, Health, & Wellness Allen Hardin. “It’s this commitment that will ultimately drive our success. We’ve asked for significant changes in behavior, which are a departure from what they are accustomed to, and they’ve continued to rise to the occasion. Our medical team, coaches, and staff are wholly focused on providing every resource available to ensure the health and safety of all our student-athletes.”

In addition, Texas Athletics will be utilizing Austin-based Campus Health Project LLC for surveillance testing to have secure access to critical testing capacity, speedy test results, and dedicated logistical and IT support services to execute effective COVID-19 testing.

Texas Athletics will continue to provide further updates and information on how our teams are managing this situation as the Longhorns head into their fall seasons.

Texas Athletics COVID-19 Testing Update

Texas Athletics began on-boarding and testing student-athletes for COVID-19 starting with Football the first week of June. Following Football, the Longhorns on-boarded Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Volleyball and Soccer. Since testing began, UT has administered a total of 457 surveillance tests across all five on-boarded sports teams. Among those tests, 17 student-athletes have returned positive for COVID-19 PCR test results. Along with that group, 10 additional student-athletes who were tested as a result of COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive. Of note, Texas Athletics has administered 153 COVID-19 tests among its five on-boarded teams over the past three weeks of surveillance testing, which have resulted in no new positive test results.