The University of Delaware, which was one of the first college programs in the country to welcome its swimming & diving program back to campus for official team workouts, has suspended 19 members of that team for violating COVID-19 protocols.
The suspensions will bar those student-athletes from “all athletic related activities.” A spokesperson for the athletics department says that the suspensions are of various lengths with the minimum being 6 weeks up to the full semester of athletics activities.
The suspensions came after notification that there was “a large indoor social gathering hosted on September 26, 2020 at an off campus residence,” the school says. That violates both the Newark, Delaware city ordinance for indoor gatherings as well as the school’s COVID-19 guidelines and the student-athlete social pledge.
UD student-athletes and staff that are currently on campus for the fall semester are placed in an ongoing campus surveillance testing pool where groups will be tested twice a week.
“We have spoken to our student-athletes at length about their responsibility of being back on campus. The protocols and guidelines put into place are ones that must be followed for us to provide a safe environment for not only the University, but our community as well.” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Services Chrissi Rawak said. “While we have been fortunate with the behavior from a majority of our student-athletes in following the guidelines and social pledge. we cannot let up, we must stay focused and disciplined in all of our choices.”
The school says that none of the swimmers in question tested positive and that all were quarantined. The school, by policy, does not disclose identities of anybody who tests positive.
The week after that social gathering, however, Delaware did see its highest weekly count of positive cases among students and employees with 80.
Many universities across the country have suspended students and athletes for similar offenses during the fall semester. That same weekend, for example, another Division I program, the University of Denver, suspended 38 members of the swimming & diving program for a similar offense, though people around that program claim that the gathering in Denver was outdoors.
Delaware welcomed its swimmers & divers back to campus for voluntary conditioning workouts on June 10th. Last season, the Delaware women finished 5th out of 7 teams at the CAA Championships, while the Delaware men finished 5th out of 5 teams. The school has not released a swimming & diving schedule nor any specific plans for their path forward in winter season athletics like swimming & diving, though their football team is not playing this fall.
The CAA has adopted what it calls an “extreme flexibility model” for Olympic sports scheduling for 2020-2021, under which each CAA institution has committed to play at least the minimum number of contests per sport to meet NCAA sport sponsorship requirements. Each school also has the option of schedule additional games, up to the NCAA maximum, if they so choose.