Knowing that some schools might balk at the cost of such regular testing, the players urged the conference to ask Stanford, whose medical school recently received federal approval for pooled testing, which greatly increases testing capacity and efficiency, to make it available to the conference’s other schools at wholesale cost.
“This virus doesn’t look at if you’re a professional or amateur; it has the potential to harm,” Daltoso said in explaining why the players want the same protections the N.F.L. is providing when teams begin blocking and tackling and cannot social distance. “We play a full contact sport; I think guys made it very clear that working out is not the issue. We’re 10 days away from practice — we don’t need guidelines, we need mandates, rules that schools all across the conference need to follow.”
The players said Scott told them the conference could not impose testing standards on its universities, and referenced a 17-page pamphlet the conference produced laying out recommendations. If schools do not follow the recommendations, the players said Scott told them: “We hope to discuss that.”
“That’s not enough,” Daltoso said. “We’re asking for the schools to follow concrete mandates.”
The need for such mandates was underscored, the players said, by recent cases in which players have had lengthy and arduous recoveries from the virus — including the case of Brady Feeney, a freshman lineman at Indiana whose mother posted on Facebook that he was facing possible heart issues and his blood work had troubled doctors.
The players said Scott several times urged the players to opt out if they were uncomfortable playing, but that, they said, brought its own concerns. Two players at Washington State, receiver Kassidy Woods and defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs, said that after they aligned themselves with the #WeAreUnited group, Coach Nick Rolovich told them they would be treated differently, and they could not see doctors or trainers or use the dining hall and had been removed from a team messaging app. (Hobbs participated in Thursday’s call.)
On the call, Harlan, the Utah athletic director, told the group that Utah players who opt out would be allowed the same access to mental health, food and health services that the rest of the team had, but that using team facilities to stay in shape could be problematic.
But Nick Ford, a senior offensive lineman at Utah, said that when he sought clarification about whether the policy that Harlan laid out applied more broadly, Scott told him that players who opted out were “not allowed to cherry-pick from services.” Ford added that Scott criticized him directly, saying Ford was “talking out both sides of my mouth.”