What Hunter Yurachek said about athletes returning to campus

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek is shown during a football game between the Razorbacks and Colorado State on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek is shown during a football game between the Razorbacks and Colorado State on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Fayetteville.

Hunter Yurachek

• There are still many things that are unknown. I think back to what things looked like two months ago. The past few months have probably been the most challenging of my career. While many decisions were difficult, it was easier because we have a commitment to the athletes, staff and fans. I'm thankful for SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, chancellor Joe Steinmetz and the board of trustees.

• We're prepared to welcome back many of our student-athletes June 8 for voluntary workouts. You will see varying plans across the country and SEC. No plan can guarantee that no one in our programs will contract the virus. Our goal continues to be to instill confidence in athletes and staff to return to campus.

• June 8: We will enter Phase 1 of our plan. We will welcome fall sport athletes back first. That does not include any incoming freshmen. Gymnastics, swim and dive and men's and women's track and field will return June 22.

• We will not test all of our athletes when they return to campus. That follows SEC guidelines. We will test athletes who are symptomatic.

• We had an hour Zoom call with parents who had questions after sending out a Q&A document. We had 100-plus parents on the call, and we did not get concerns from parents about returning to campus. They had great confidence in them returning to campus. They are ready to get them out of the house, he joked. Parents, athletes and staff had confidence in our plan.

• There will be an athlete who will test positive, and we have a plan. All we can do is mitigate their risk. They are going to have to follow the protocols we have put in place.

• We want to have full capacity in all of our venues. We have sold approximately 31,000 season tickets for football. We have stopped single-game tickets to home and away games for football. That is about the only measure we have taken to this point.

• There is a select number of residence halls that have remained open for international students. Incoming freshmen will have a place to stay when they arrive, and it may not be where they end up staying their full freshman year.

• The numbers for workouts will be about 16 in the football weight room at any one time, and we will use the upper and lower areas. The majority of our returning football players will return for the voluntary workouts on June 8.

• Nevada is planning to be here on Sept. 5 and we are planning on being at Notre Dame on Sept. 12.

• If we have a mass outbreak, that will change our plan. I told our performance team that what we have to be in the next few weeks is able to adjust on the fly and have a sense of humor. Things change on a daily basis. Our environment is changing and it is changing every day.

• What we have decided to discuss is we want to get as far as we can into the summer regarding the capacities of our venues. We think we need six weeks to prepare for the football season. We need some decisions made at about mid-to-early July.

• We're going to have informational sessions with the athletes. They will have to take responsibility themselves, too. It isn't just for themselves but people they are around. We have to educate them. It's going to take an effort on their part, too, so they don't have to go through again what they've already been through.

• The June 22 date could move up or move back depending on how things go following June 8.

• There has not been a member of the university staff who has been furloughed or taken a salary reduction.

• Transfer student-athletes will be able to come in on June 8. There will be some schools that will welcome back incoming freshmen on June 8. I made the decision to push that date back to June 29.

• What you will see different for athletes, football for example, they will enter the building through one direction and exit through another. They will not have access to the locker room and lounge area. They will do conditioning, leave and have meetings with their coaches, who are going to have their work cut out for them. At least early on, there will be few instances where you are together as a team.

• Dave England joins the call: An athlete who tests positive will be quarantined. If an athlete tests positive, the roommates of that athlete would be quarantined along with him/her.

• England: The threshold to be tested would be a fever of 100.4. There will be daily temperature checks.

• Students in venues - Yurachek: The 31,000 season tickets number does not include students. I think we'll have a good gauge of what student seating looks like when we get around to selling the student access passes. If our students are on campus, which they are expected to be, we will make accommodations.

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