“Although the university is following the coronavirus guidelines issued by the CDC and other experts to reduce the spread of infection, I can never be completely shielded from all risk of illness caused by COVID-19 or other infections,” the document reads, referencing the disease caused by the virus. Failure to comply with the rules laid out in the pledge could result in a player being banned from team activities and facilities, though scholarships will not be at risk.
The Buckeyes began returning to campus last week for voluntary workouts, and each player who wanted to use team facilities had to be tested for the coronavirus. The school has declined to release the results of those tests, citing privacy concerns.
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith told ESPN that the “Buckeye Pledge” is not meant to be considered legally binding but rather is being used to educate players about the risks involved.
“That’s why we call it a pledge,” Smith said. “We don’t look at that as a legal document. It’s a Buckeye Pledge. Allow us to help you so that if we face a situation, our trainers, our strength coaches, our coaches or any athletic administrator sees a student-athlete not wearing a mask or not social distancing, we can say: ‘Hey, you made a commitment. You signed a pledge. Your parents signed a pledge. Your parents are a part of this.’ ”
Smith said he got the idea from Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass. According to the Dispatch, Hoosiers players will be required to sign a similar document before they return to campus next week.
Along with being tested, Ohio State’s players are required to practice social distancing and wear masks when in public, to report if they have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, to disclose if they are suffering from symptoms and to remain home if they are sick.
“You’ve got to make a commitment,” Smith said. “If you’re going back to your apartment, with your roommates or by yourself or whatever, or if you choose to go out and have dinner somewhere now that places are reopening, you need to wear a mask. You need to social distance. We’re hammering our kids on that concept. Social distancing is the biggest challenge we’ve been having. They’re kids. They want to be close to one another.”