Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is optimistic the Cowboys football program can get back to business May 1 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gundy offered his comments Tuesday during a teleconference with reporters, per ESPN's Heather Dinich:
"How fast that can happen based on the tests that are available, I can't say right now, but that's the plan. We have to have a plan, and the plan right now is for them to start on May 1. It might get backed up two weeks. I don't know, I can't make that call, but if it does, we'll start with the employees of this company, the ones that come in this building. Then we'll bring the players in, and slowly but surely we'll test them all in."
Gundy went on to say the program would order anybody with the coronavirus to self-quarantine and potentially seek treatment. In general, he emphasized the need to return to work.
"Maybe they don't come back," he said of older employees or anybody with an underlying condition. "But the majority of people in this building who are healthy ... and certainly the 18, 19, 20, 21, 22-year-olds that are healthy, the so-called medical people saying the herd of healthy people that have the antibodies maybe built up and can fight this? We all need to go back to work."
Oklahoma State released a statement in response to Gundy's comments:
"Everyone wants to return to some degree of normalcy as soon as possible. As for Oklahoma State University, we will adhere to the advice of public health experts who are making informed decisions in the best interest of the citizens of our nation and state based on sound scientific data. We will also abide by the federal and state mandates as well as Big 12 guidelines. We will not compromise the health and well-being of our campus community. This virus is deadly and we will do our part at Oklahoma State to help blunt the spread."
The World Health Organization has confirmed more than 1.4 million cases of the coronavirus, and the United States has seen the most cases so far (386,800), per CNN.
The disease's fatality rate has so far been higher for older populations compared to younger groups, especially those of college-age like the members of Oklahoma State's football team.
Along with the general concerns about exposure, however, one worry in this case is that a football player could become an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus and unknowingly spread it to other people.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported the Chinese government halted the planned return of the Chinese Basketball Association in part because of fears over asymptomatic carriers.
Gundy isn't the first coach to address the pandemic and strike a hopeful tone. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told reporters last Friday he's still planning for the 2020 season to kick off as scheduled with fans in attendance.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, on the other hand, questioned whether either the NFL or college football will be able to get underway.
At the very least, getting the players back to Stillwater by May may be unrealistic.