Idaho football coach Paul Petrino and athletic director Terry Gawlik said they are supportive and willing to listen to players following a report that nearly three-fourths of the Vandals’ football team don’t want to play this season due to coronavirus concerns.
According to Stadium, players had expressed concerns to Petrino, Gawlik, the team’s assistant coaches and university president Scott Green.
“We stand behind our student-athletes and fully support their right to speak out,” Petrino said in a statement Tuesday. “I also have shared with our players that I am available to listen and discuss options at any time if they have concerns about returning to play in the current environment.
“Our athletic training staff continues to do an excellent job of adapting and implementing new practices to help our student-athletes and staff re-integrate as safely as possible. Our focus has been, and will remain, on keeping the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes a top priority.”
Petrino said the team gathered Tuesday to discuss the measures being taken by the university as they attempt to play football this fall.
“I told them if they don’t feel comfortable, they need to tell somebody,” Gawlik said in the statement. “They need to discuss with their trainers, with me, with their coach or whomever. We will take care of them. We are not going to remove anyone’s athletic aid because of their individual concerns. We just need to know.”
According to the release, the team got together for a players-only Zoom meeting last week to discuss their options. The team is scheduled to begin fall camp this Friday.
Nine student-athletes out of 125 at Idaho have tested positive for COVID-19. Those nine have self-isolated and 15 more have self-quarantined.