The Nebraska track and field team has had an outbreak of COVID-19 significant enough to close practice for the rest of the week, coach Gary Pepin confirmed Wednesday.
According to a source, a number of athletes on the team tested positive this week. The team’s roster includes more than 100 athletes.
Pepin said he didn’t know how many tested positive, but it was enough to shut down practice until at least Monday. NU will reevaluate at that time.
A call to Dr. Lonnie Albers, NU’s associate athletic director for athletic medicine, was not immediately returned.
While the Husker football team undergoes daily antigen testing, other NU athletes aren’t tested as often, Pepin said.
Only once, in June, has Nebraska publicly announced how many positive cases it’s had in the athletic department. NU does report its results to the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, which includes the positive tests in its daily results.
Pepin said the athletic department has been “working their fannies off” to keep athletes as safe as possible. Of the cases Pepin knows of, the coach said the contraction of the virus has been in “innocent” situations unrelated to group gatherings or trips to downtown bars.
“It hasn’t been like they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Pepin said. “It’s very, very difficult, with that many kids, to not have some kind of issues or some kind of problems with college-aged kids.
“If you just expect them to go in their dorm room, and never leave, that’s pretty tough. That’s not going to happen.”
Pepin said it’s the first COVID-19 outbreak on the team. He hopes to resume practice next week.