Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee said Wednesday that the department is considering moving forward with disciplinary action for student athletes who violate coronavirus regulations set forth by the university.
“Anything and everything is on the table. It could be from removal of their team, to no longer participating as a student athlete and it could, you know, be less,” Fee said. “You know, it depends upon what the facts of this situation are, but if it is a flagrant disregard for their safety and others.”
According to Fee, every head coach within the athletic department has been spoken to regarding expectations and protocols to follow.
Fee confirmed that there have been student athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19. He was unable to confirm at this time whether or not all of the athletes were the Dirtbags players that have been named as the source of the outbreak in the dormitory halls on campus.
He was also unable to confirm the number of athletes who have tested positive, citing unreliable testing as a reason for a lack of clarification. The department as a whole is quarantined for the time being, he said.
“So at this point, you know I’m not kind of scrambling in a rush, you know, in two weeks, we’ll know because we will have been in quarantine for two weeks so we will have an idea of who, how many, whatever you want to call it,” Fee said.
Cindy Masner, deputy athletic director and senior women’s administrator, sent an email to all student athletes on Sept. 28 notifying them of the quarantine status and a reminder of the department’s guidelines.
In the email, Masner included a frequently asked question sheet detailing “what it means to quarantine” and how this two-week isolation period is “more strict than what we have been doing until now.”
Included in the FAQ, Masner confirmed that the department is pursuing disciplinary action including removal from the department and specified teams if athletes refuse to abide by the regulations. They also warned that financial aid may be affected.
Student athletes are required to take a polymerase chain reaction test and immediately send a picture of the test results to their athletic trainer.
Athletes are not permitted to workout outside at any point in time, per Los Angeles County Health Department guidelines, Masner noted.
Fee said that the department should have a better understanding of the depth of the spread of the virus within the department once the campus-wide quarantine is lifted. Officials have set Oct. 10, two weeks after the outbreak, as the date for campus operations to resume.
Outside factors, including students not affiliated with the athletic department, Fee said, might have contributed to the spread among athletes.
“Until we get to the finish line, I really don’t want to speak,” Fee said.
For those who have violated the department’s guidelines, Fee said, the athletic department is looking at pursuing disciplinary action.
“These student athletes, all of them understand there’s consequences to their behavior,” Fee said.
Although Fee said he is deeply disappointed in the students who may have jeopardized the safety of others, he said disciplinary action is not the end game he’s hoping for.
“Worst case scenario is to remove someone from our roster,” Fee said. “[But] we’re going to hold people accountable.”
Looking forward, Fee said he and the coaches in the department are looking forward to educating student athletes more and ensuring something like this doesn’t happen again.
“Being a student athlete is a privilege, not a right,” Fee said. “There are standards and we’re going to hold people accountable. You have to hold your teammates accountable, you have to hold your fellow student athlete accountable.”
Once the campus-wide quarantine lifts, Fee said, the Beach will begin basketball practice for both the men’s and women’s teams. Practice had been slated to begin Oct. 1 but was postponed due to the two-week campus-wide pause in activity stemming from the outbreak in Parkside College.
“Assuming that things keep trending [up]…then we’re underway,” Fee said. “Hopefully students make good choices and we can have more activity.”
Madalyn Amato, editor in chief, and Julia Terbeche, news editor, contributed to this article.