OSU football's Mike Gundy plans for May 1 return, says players 'can fight (coronavirus) off'
STILLWATER — Mike Gundy has a plan, one that would begin to restore order to the college football world if it could somehow work.
That plan begins in 24 days.
May 1, the goal date, is the day Oklahoma State’s football coach hopes to begin bringing back staff members through testing for the COVID-19 disease. Players would soon follow, though that can’t officially happen until a month later, per Big 12 rules banning all in-person activities through May 31.
“How fast that can happen based on the tests that are available, I can’t say right now,” Gundy said Tuesday morning. “But that’s the plan.
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“We have to have a plan, and the plan right now is for that to start on May 1. It might get backed up two weeks. I don’t know. I can’t make that call. But if it does, we’ll start with the employees of this company — the ones that come in this building. Then we’ll bring the players in. Slowly but surely, we’ll test ‘em all in.”
Then, Gundy believes football life will be closer to normal.
In an hour-long teleconference, Gundy spoke for the first time since the novel coronavirus shut down the sports world, ending the Cowboys’ spring practice schedule.
On Tuesday, coronavirus numbers continued to rise for both deaths and positive tests in Oklahoma, with 1,472 positive cases and 67 deaths.
Stillwater currently has a shelter-in-place order until April 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some cities — like Oklahoma City and Tulsa — have a shelter-in-place order until April 30.
OSU released a statement about Gundy’s comments late Tuesday night.
“Everyone wants to return to some degree of normalcy as soon as possible,” the statement read. “As for Oklahoma State University, we will adhere to the advice of public health experts who are making informed decisions in the best interest of the citizens of our nation and state based on sound scientific data. We will also abide by the federal and state mandates as well as Big 12 guidelines.
“We will not compromise the health and well-being of our campus community. This virus is deadly and we will do our part at Oklahoma State to help blunt the spread.”
Early Tuesday, Gundy said football must be played, with or without fans in the stands. He believes it will start on time.
“The NCAA, the presidents of the universities, the conference commissioners, the athletic directors all need to be meeting right now, and we need to start coming up with answers,” Gundy said. “In my opinion, if we have to bring our players back, test ‘em. They're in good shape, they're all 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 years old, they're healthy. A lot of them can fight it off with their natural body, the antibodies and build that they have. There's some people that are asymptomatic.
“If that's true, then yeah, we sequester ‘em. And people say, ‘That's crazy.’ No, it's not crazy, because we need to continue to budget and run money through the state of Oklahoma.”
Gundy said OSU football accounts for $77 million revenue, including around $37 million in suites and tickets sales.
But as COVID-19 spreads and stay-at-home orders expand, college football is in doubt.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the John Hopkins University Center for Health Security, is a member of the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel. He expressed serious doubt about a season being played in 2020 when he recently told the Detroit Free Press that the “virus is still going to be around in the fall and we’re not going to have a vaccine in the fall.”
Adalja is also certain that COVID-19 will roar back in the fall as temperatures drop.
But Gundy appeared to offer his own solution to that belief. Do whatever it takes to bring back football.
“We all need to go back to work,” Gundy said. “Can somebody get positive while we’re working two or three days later? Sure. We quarantine them just like we do people that get the flu. We get people that get the flu during the season, we quarantine them, we treat them, we make sure they’re healthy, we bring them back. It would be the same thing here.
“But at some point, we gotta go back to work, we gotta get the guys back in here. Once the medical people say, ‘Look, we can test you. We feel comfortable about this.’ I’m thinking at that time we’re going to feel better about drugs that can fight it for the ones that do get it.”