College athletes are safer in the hands of their coaches, right?
Maybe not at the University of Kansas.
The Jayhawks’ head football coach, Les Miles, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday and is isolating at home, he announced.
In a statement, the former national championship winning coach announced his positive test and said he would fulfil his “coaching responsibilities remotely.”
Kansas AD Jeff Long said: “As long as Coach Miles does not develop symptoms or have a fever, we anticipate he will be able to coach the West Virginia game on Oct. 17.”
Oct. 17 is next Saturday, less than 10 days away, for those of you who have also lost track of time in 2020.
Ten days is the timeframe the CDC recommends for asymptomatic Americans to self-isolate after a positive test result.
Hopefully Miles, 66, is the only case on the KU staff. Hopefully he is asymptomatic and gets over this with relative ease.
But most COVID cases in a college football program don’t just go away. If the first few weeks of the season serve as any indication, the virus could quickly spread throughout the Jayhawks and potentially put next Saturday’s game in jeopardy — forget Miles making a coaching appearance.
Just ask Notre Dame or Virginia Tech or BYU or UNC-Charlotte. Or the University of Houston, which will play its first game of the season tonight after five pandemic-related postponements and cancelations.
High-profile coaches across college football, like Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban, have argued that players are safer under their care. But high-profile college coaches are the last people who should be in charge. If Miles can’t keep himself safe from the virus, how can he expect to keep a team of kids sheltered? Kids, by the way, who have likely come into close contact with Miles over the past few days.
Kansas, like every other school with a football team, wants to play because it is in their financial interest to do so. Think KU is a basketball school? Think again. According to Equality in Athletics Data Analysis the Jayhawk football program generates $38,148,252 in revenue, double the revenue generated by men’s basketball.
And with all that cash, you don’t think KU wants to see their $2.8 million coach back on the sidelines soon?
COVID has exposed many of the dysfunctions in our society — college sports included. Athletic departments will continue to operate under a different set of rules, while coaches, in many cases, are not the ones keeping athletes safe.
KU’s own contract-tracing portal asks students to “stay at home and self-quarantine for 14 days after your last exposure,” if asymptomatic.
I wonder if those rules will be enforced for KU students who play football.