MOSCOW, Idaho — Stadium's Brett McMurphy is reporting that 60 out of 82 Idaho football players have voted they do not want to play football in the fall because of health and safety concerns.
The poll was an internal poll among football players and they did not notify the coaches about it. However, players told Stadium that they have expressed their concerns about playing this season to Idaho football head coach Paul Petrino, Idaho Athletic Director Terry Gawlik and multiple Idaho assistant football coaches.
On Monday night, University of Idaho officials confirmed to KREM that the school has had nine COVID-19 cases since student-athletes returned to campus, the majority of which being on the football team. However, Idaho said they did not have the data on how many of those cases are still active. In total they say 24 people are either isolating or quarantining, or have isolated or quarantined.
“I know that this will get drastically worse as the season progresses and I know in my heart it’s not the morally correct thing to do,” an anonymous player said to Stadium. “We feel we have been neglected by the NCAA in terms of wealth over health.”
“We stand behind our student-athletes and fully support their right to speak out," said Idaho football head coach Paul Petrino is a statement released by the school. "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... Today, we gathered as a team to discuss the parameters of the fall season, as well as the safety protocols that exist in our facility and on campus. I really appreciated the opportunity to collaboratively discuss the dynamic and difficult decisions that are being made throughout the country on these issues. We will continue to communicate with our team and seek their feedback as we work together to get through these unprecedented times.”
“I told them if they don’t feel comfortable, they need to tell somebody," said Idaho AD Terry Gawlik in the same statement released by the university. "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.”
Idaho says that 125 student-athletes have been tested so far since they returned to campus. However, a spokesman said they did not have details on how testing proceeded after student-athlete's initial tests.
As of Monday night, football camp was still scheduled to start on Friday in Moscow.
“The majority of our team is strongly concerned with the safety of each other and our community, friends and family,” a player said to stadium. “We understand we may be able to fight off the virus, but we’ll be increasing the risk to others who may not be as fortunate. We all want to play when it’s safe, but we do not think this fall is the appropriate time for a season.”