Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says the league cannot mandate college football players to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but he is attempting to push student athletes in that direction.
"We are certainly, as we go forward, encouraging student-athletes to get vaccinated," Bowlsby told reporters Wednesday. " ... Frankly, anyone not getting vaccinated is taking unnecessary risk. And that's not just student-athletes, that's anyone in our society."
The commissioner also indicated unvaccinated players would face stricter testing protocols that could affect their eligibility for games.
"For a student-athlete, you're rolling the dice on whether or not you can participate [if you're not vaccinated]," he said. "You're going to be in a testing protocol."
Bowlsby referenced the North Carolina State baseball team, which saw its season come to an end at the College World Series because of COVID-19 protocols.
Positive COVID tests also affected the college football national title game as Ohio State was forced to play Alabama without several key players.
The COVID-19 vaccine has been a divisive topic nationwide with only 48.3 percent of people in the United States fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to the Mayo Clinic. The shots have been extremely effective, however, with 99 percent of COVID-related deaths in June coming from unvaccinated people, per CNN.com.
Professional sports leagues have not mandated vaccines, but the NFL created different protocols for those considered immune that include fewer tests, no masks and no travel restrictions.
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, 71 percent of NFL players have had at least one shot.