Don’t expect Oklahoma to release any of its team coronavirus testing data for the rest of the year.
The athletic department had been releasing regular updates of its COVID-19 testing results throughout the summer. But it recently stopped. And when asked why the football team’s testing data hadn’t been released in the last two weeks and if the team had any active COVID-19 cases, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said that the school didn’t want to be at a “competitive disadvantage” by releasing that data during the season.
“We’re to the point where we’re playing games and obviously any active case or contact trace is going to have game repercussions and so just like we would with an injury we made the decision to not broadcast that,” Riley said. “I know that we’ve probably been the most transparent school in the country up until then but you don’t want to give your team a competitive disadvantage so we’re not going to do that.”
Oklahoma plays Missouri State in Week 1. Missouri State needs all the competitive advantages it can get to keep the game with the Sooners close. And Oklahoma releasing the number of active cases within the team wouldn’t give Missouri State any advantage at all.
College teams like to play coy with injuries and typically cite privacy laws as a reason why they don’t reveal players’ specific injuries. But not releasing COVID-19 data is different than not releasing an injury report.
The COVID-19 data that Oklahoma was releasing didn’t identify players. Just the number of cases within the team at a given time after the latest round of testing. Plus, the data is being reported to state and local health officials anyway so that their dashboards can be updated. The testing data isn’t remaining secret, unlike a hamstring strain that wouldn’t have to be released to a public health official.
Riley’s in-season stance isn’t likely to be unique, either. Coaches and teams across the country are likely to employ similar tactics ahead of games in an attempt to keep their opponents off-balance.
When it announced that Friday’s game against SMU would be postponed because of a coronavirus outbreak within the team, TCU didn’t identify the number of coronavirus cases it had. Though we can guess that the number was significant, or at least significant enough to quarantine numerous players. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Monday night that TCU would have been unable to meet the Big 12’s pregame roster minimums that require at least 53 active players and specific numbers of players at certain positions.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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