Former Hokie Caleb Farley sheds light on opt-out: “My concern grew more and more”
Farley described the team’s practice conditions, writing, “we were like 100-deep in our indoor facility, no masks.”
BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Last Wednesday, Virginia Tech cornerback and projected first-round draft pick Caleb Farley became the first high-profile college football player to opt-out of the 2020 season.
“I am opting out due to uncertain health conditions and regulations, and all the other opt-outs going on in football right now,” Farley said in a video tweeted by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Farley lost his mother, Robin, to cancer in 2018, and he said he couldn’t afford to lose another parent or loved one.
But on Monday, we got more insight into Farley’s decision from a column he wrote for Pro Football Talk.
In it, Farley wrote about his “deep concerns” about staying healthy, claiming Virginia Tech teammates were “going home, going to Myrtle Beach, coming back to campus and weren’t getting tested.”
Farley also described the team’s practice conditions, writing, “we were like 100-deep in our indoor facility, no masks.”
His concern "grew more and more."
Shortly after Farley’s column was published, Virginia Tech Athletics released a statement Monday from Chief Medical Officer Mark Rogers, saying in part, “All Virginia Tech student-athletes are tested for COVID-19 and screened before being cleared to participate in any athletic activities.”
It went on to say, “Student-athletes and staff have been issued personal protective equipment to wear in indoor areas ... and all staff members have been issued additional personal protective equipment to wear during workouts and practices.
“The Beamer-Lawson Practice Facility continues to be utilized in an open-air configuration in accordance with health department guidelines. An abundance of caution continues to be utilized to ensure all equipment and facilities are sanitized and cleaned appropriately.”
The university also released its COVID-19 Back-to-Work plan, which details protocols for staff and student-athletes, including daily health screenings and temperature checks.
The document also addresses PPE policy.
It says face masks are highly recommended for anyone who enters VT facilities, though it contains no specific mask guidelines for student-athletes during practice or workouts.
Repeated requests made by WDBJ7 to interview Dr. Rogers have been denied.
Farley questioned how his decision would be perceived by the NFL and wrote Hokies head coach Justin Fuente tried to talk him out of his decision, but that, ultimately, he couldn’t ignore the doubts in his head.
“Though the competitor in me badly wants to play this season, I cannot ignore what’s going on in my heart, and I must make the decision that brings me the most peace,” said Farley in his announcement video.
Fuente also released a statement of his own on the situation, saying “I spoke with Caleb earlier today and I feel much better about the context of his comments regarding his personal concerns regarding COVID-19. In our conversation I also told Caleb that I will always love and support him and that I’m looking forward to cheering him on as he pursues his dream of playing in the National Football League. We at Virginia Tech will always wish Caleb Farley and his family the very best.”
“One of my most important responsibilities as the head coach of the football program at Virginia Tech is to put the best interests of our team, our players, our coaches and our staff at the forefront of every decision we make,” said Fuente in a statement. “We are entrusted with that task every day. I have the utmost confidence in medical guidance provided by our chief medical officer, Dr. Mark Rogers and our associate athletics director for sports medicine, Mike Goforth, as well as the plan they are implementing along with our campus officials to allow our team to train and prepare for the upcoming season. I appreciate their tireless work and support the procedures they have put in place for our team.”
Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.