With thousands of college athletes forced to evacuate universities across the country and return to their homes in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic, athletic departments have been seeking ways to provide support for them.
Without access to weight rooms, training tables and nutrition centers, athletes are using anything available to help them maintain their fitness level and mental health during an uncertain time.
Many schools have figured out how to provide limited financial support and some modest athletic equipment.
“We’re able to give them their scholarship checks pro-rated for room and board,” UCF athletics director Danny White said. “So hopefully that helps them put better fuel in their bodies and make smart decisions on the way they’re eating.”
The University of Miami is also providing some financial relief to its student and athletes.
“When you look at our institution and credit the leadership at the University of Miami, for those students living on campus and all student-athletes, they pro-rated their housing and sent checks out,” Miami athletics director Blake James said. “They’re in the process of and may have already sent the checks out on pro-rated meal plans for those who have gone home and maybe need a little extra help.
“From a studying standpoint, whether it was laptops and iPads to provide our kids with the resources they need.”
What each university can provide its athletes varies, but according to James, the NCAA has provided some leniency in terms of items schools can distribute.
The Pac-12 recently announced its schools could send off-campus athletes a limited number of nutritional products and substances normally available on campus, including packaged vitamins, protein powder, shake mixes and protein bars.
Schools could also provide apparel and personal equipment that is regularly available to athletes when they are on campus for conditioning workouts, including stretching bands and straps and foam rollers.
Other conferences such as the ACC and American Athletic Conference told the Orlando Sentinel they don’t have specific policies in place, instead deferring to the individual schools.
“It probably varies from school-to-school what is right for them and for their students and that’s what everyone has to recognize,” James said. “You need to make decisions that are in line with your institutional values and make sense for your program for the safety and well-being of your students.”
North Carolina coach Mack Brown said the school is doing everything it can to provide its athletes with a sense of routine.
“We’re sending them things constantly, whether it’s scholarship checks or nutritional needs that they have,” Brown said. “They have (Air) Jordans coming to them available for workouts. So we’re trying to do anything within our capabilities to help our guys to get a new routine.”
White said proper assistance can help as athletes deal with the challenges around them. Some have more resources at home than others.
“A big part of their success is having the support that we surround them with, whether it’s nutrition, academics, strength and conditioning,” he said. “Obviously their coaches are putting them through an experience that allows them to maximize their abilities.”
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