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Baylor Football

Update: Waco official tells SicEm365 the city had no involvement in postponement decision

September 19, 2020
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Updated Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020 at 2:41 p.m. CT.

Less than 24 hours ahead of a football contest between Baylor University and the University of Houston scheduled for Saturday inside McLane Stadium, the game was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns, sources tell SicEm365.

According to a source close to the Baylor program, the Bears would have been without a significant portion of a single position group making it unsafe to play. That information was the driving factor behind the cancellation which correlates with the Big 12 protocols that have several specific personnel thresholds a team must meet for certain position groups as well as the entire roster. 

Big 12 teams must have at least 53 players available to play, a minimum of seven offensive linemen and four interior defensive linemen, and at least a single quarterback. Baylor Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades told SicEm365 on Friday afternoon that Baylor did not meet the threshold for one of the specific positions, but did not confirm which position.  

Following the original report on Friday afternoon, SicEm365 spoke with an official from the City of Waco who confirmed it was not a local government decision that postponed the game, citing that because Baylor University is as a private institution, they do not have jurisdiction over the Big 12 program.

The official also clarified that Waco had merely adopted CDC and state protocols and not implemented their own, meaning any protocols that Baylor might be following were not from the local level. Baylor was and continues to be responsible for conducting their own contact tracing, according to the official, not the city.

According to the CDC website, “state and local public health officials will decide how to implement” guidelines put forth by the CDC and are also responsible for advising “specific people, or groups of people, to be tested.” 

Even with all of the guidelines put in place in weeks and month prior, the decision to postpone the game came with extreme frustration.

Specifically, the ultimate factor behind the postponement of the game was a result of contact tracing, not positive results of conducted COVID-19 tests on football players and staff members. Because of the guidelines followed, multiple Baylor players were set to miss the game as a direct result of contact tracing and not due to positive COVID-19 tests, the source said.

Several Baylor players that were set to miss the game did not receive a single positive test, and despite also receiving multiple negative tests in the same time frame, were not allowed to return to team activities because of regulations in place for contact tracing.

Big 12 programs are required to test athletes three times during game weeks to best monitor developing cases. Because of the league guideline in place, multiple Baylor players were set to miss the game against Houston despite the potential of having up to six negative COVID-19 tests over the last two weeks.

On Saturday, following the original release of the report, a source close to Baylor Athletics confirmed to SicEm365 that there were instances of players in contact tracing protocols who tested negative multiple times after coming in contact with an individual who had previously tested positive. Those players were not knowingly exposed to any positive testing persons again. 

An additional frustration, according to a source close to Baylor Athletics, comes from the inability to retest athletes who test positive for COVID-19. The inability to retest prevents checking for false-positive results which have been a regular occurrence when testing for the virus.

Per a release on Sept. 14, Baylor’s athletic department has had 88 positive tests across multiple sports since the beginning of June. Of those, six were currently active including two asymptomatic cases and four symptomatic. According to the release, a total of 23 athletes and staff members across all sports were being monitored for potential cases. 

The news comes less than seven days after Big 12 program and the American Athletic Conference program agreed to play in Waco on Saturday. The programs lost games against Louisiana Tech and Memphis over COVID-19 concerns and the mutual open date was utilized to schedule to game. 

 
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