UL athletic director Bryan Maggard said he isn’t concerned, disappointed or discouraged about three Ragin’ Cajuns athletes testing positive for the coronavirus.
Reality told him to expect it.
“For me, we knew it was a matter of when, not if,” Maggard said. “We didn’t have any preconceived notions that we would dodge the COVID bullet. We knew that students and potentially staff would test positive.”
Maggard said the positive tests don’t discredit his athletic department’s coronavirus protocols.
“I’m not discouraged whatsoever,” he said. “As a matter of fact, what I’ve anticipated has kind of come to fruition.
“Did I anticipate that we’d have some positive cases? Absolutely. Did I anticipate there might be a little bit of a slow start in terms of people truly adhering to the social distancing rules, requirements and expectations? Sure.”
The positive tests did strengthen Maggard’s resolve to more loudly preach the coronavirus message.
“My hope is as our country sees a spike — then certainly as more student-athletes across the country start acquiring the virus — then that opens up more eyes and people start to take this seriously and understand the importance of mask-wearing and social distancing," he said.
“Wearing a mask is the difference maker. If you’re wearing a mask, chances are you’re not going to contract the virus. I know a lot of people have strong opinions on this subject, but at the end of the day, it is all about wearing a mask.”
UL’s football team reported June 9 and Maggard said he’s encouraged with the players’ improvement in adjusting to the university’s game plan.
“Our students are doing a fantastic job of getting to our health care providers as soon as possible if they are feeling any type of symptoms,” Maggard said. “Even if it’s something that may not be ultimately COVID related, our students are very keen to how they’re feeling and they’re being very open and honest with us about it.”
For many across the country, social distancing has been complicated by the strong desire to take part in the Black Lives Matter social movement.
Maggard said he encourages participation in peaceful protests, but warns against forgetting social distancing measures during that process.
“The message is this, if you’re going to participate in any of those activities, you still need to be mindful of the importance of social distancing,” Maggard said. “So if you want to march in a peaceful march, you need to be wearing a mask. The more you put yourself in a situation where there’s a high concentration of people, the greater risk you’re going to have of contracting the virus.
“The key is wearing masks. If you don’t wear a mask, you’re going to run a really, really high chance of being exposed to the virus.”
Another big hurdle will be when and if other students return to the campus.
“When I drive around town or go into a store, I wear a mask and I see that vast majority of people not doing it,” Maggard said. “My hope is that our student population as a whole will be more careful and cautious.
“I think our campus will do a good job of creating a safe environment when students are in classes and in buildings, but it’s the after hours that are hard to control. You can’t force people to wear masks so students go from residence hall to residence hall or downtown or what have you.”
With that said, Maggard said he expects a mask mandate in UL classrooms.
“It do believe it will be,” he said. “However, how it’s going to be enforced is a different thing. I certainly know it’s going to be a very strong recommendation if not a requirement, but I don’t know how the enforcement piece will look as of yet. But our leadership will come that conclusion much sooner than later and communicate that.”