CSU President 'Horrified' to Learn of Alleged COVID-19 Coverup on Football Team

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 6, 2020

Steve Addazio, center, holds up a jersey during an announcement that he has been hired as the new head football coach at Colorado State University at a news conference at the school Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Fort Collins, Colo. Athletic director Joe Parker, left, and President Joyce McConnell look on. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Colorado State president Joyce McConnell has responded to a report that football coaches at the school were attempting to cover up COVID-19 cases and told players not to report their symptoms. 

McConnell told Miles Blumhardt of the Coloradoan on Thursday she was "horrified" by the allegations and that the school would be hiring an external law firm to conduct an independent investigation.

"First of all, I was horrified, then shocked and disappointed after reading your story," McConnell told Blumhardt. "I then immediately turned to finding out the truth because the most important thing is the health of our student-athletes."

McConnell sent an email to the CSU community regarding the accusations, writing:

"I tell you all now that nothing is more important to me or to CSU than the health and well-being of our students. Nothing. They are our purpose and our responsibility, each and every one of them, whatever sport they play or major they declare.  

"Effective immediately, I have launched an investigation into the concerns raised in the article. This investigation will come out of my office. It will move quickly, and I will transparently share the outcome with all of you."

Football players told Blumhardt CSU coaches have dissuaded them from reporting COVID-19 symptoms.

Players also said coaches have threatened to decrease playing opportunities for anyone who enters quarantine. An athletics staff member also said contract tracing reports have been maliciously altered to keep players on the field.

Per Kevin Lytle of the Coloradoan, CSU announced on July 29 that it would pause the football team's summer workouts after eight positive cases came to light from the 140 tests given to student-athletes since their return to campus in June.

"We are taking this step to voluntarily pause football activities to minimize the opportunity for this virus to spread any further," CSU athletic director Joe Parker stated.

"We will always put the health and safety of our student-athletes and community first, and while we are disappointed to see this spread occur within our program, we remain encouraged for the continued collaboration we have experienced with our University’s Pandemic Preparedness Team, local, county, and state health officials."

CSU hired ex-Temple and Boston College football coach Steve Addazio to run the program last December.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CSU football plans to play an eight-game Mountain West Conference schedule. Their slate will begin no earlier than the week of Sept. 26, per Matt Schubert of the Denver Post.