football field

Athletics Update

Gardner-Webb is committed to following health guidelines and practices relating to student-athletes.

Daily health-screening protocols for our student-athletes, enhanced facility and equipment cleaning, and virtual team meetings will all provide opportunities for a healthy environment. Events and activities may be modified to adhere to attendance policies; this remains a fluid situation.

AS OF August 13, 2020

Will fall athletic events go on as scheduled? 

With the health and well-being of its student-athletes as its top priorities, the Big South Conference announced on August 12th, that it has delayed its fall sports seasons with the intent of playing in the spring. This includes the sports of men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball. Additionally, fall competitions in the sports of men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis, and out-of-season competitions in spring sports have been suspended as well.  Football members will, however, be allowed to participate in up to four non-conference games in the fall due to contractual obligations.

“This is clearly not the fall we had hoped for or anticipated” said Gardner-Webb President Dr. William Downs. “I hurt for our student-athletes. I hurt for our coaches and for our loyal fans.  We are at least relieved to finally have some clarity regarding the upcoming semester as well as a potential pathway for salvaging seasons in the spring. We will continue to prioritize the health and welfare of our student-athletes, to protect their eligibility, and to support them when they are ready and able to compete at the high level to which we have become accustomed.”  

Our student-athletes will continue with permissible athletics activities, as defined by NCAA regulations and with the exception of fall sport competition, at their own discretion and in accordance with all applicable local and state regulations and procedures.

AS OF JULY 24, 2020

Will athletic events be offered or altered? 

At this point, we are preparing to have fall seasons in all our sports. We have been in regular communication with the Big South Conference, the NCAA and other member institutions. Gardner-Webb will participate in athletic events with fans present in coordination with health-related protocols and state, regional and local directives.

Although we have discussed attendance maximums and proper physical distancing, no final decision has been made. We will take our lead from the State of North Carolina and local health officials and follow recommendations concerning attendance and physical distancing.

What protocols are in place for fall student-athletes? 

With the guidance of Kevin Jones, our Assistant Athletics Director for Athletic Training, we have put together a “COVID-19 Return to Sports Plan.” This plan spells out the steps that all of our student-athletes are to follow in order to begin practice and preparation for the upcoming seasons.

All student-athletes are required to go through a thorough pre-participation screening process that includes a questionnaire, temperature checks, a physical exam, and a number of other procedures. Student-athletes will not be asked to participate in any type of physical activity, voluntary or required, until they have been on campus and under supervision for a minimum of seven days. 

Will there be a phased return of these students like many other colleges are implementing? 

Yes, a majority of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams came to campus for the second session of summer school. They have begun the protocol for return to play. The other fall sports will return to campus at designated times that will allow them to follow protocol and begin practice prior to the start of their fall seasons. The majority of our winter and spring sport student-athletes will report to campus with the other students coming to campus for the fall semester. 

Will there be regular health screenings? 

Yes, student-athletes will follow established health screening protocols before every practice. These will be facilitated by the athletic trainer who handles the sport. 

What cleaning protocols will be implemented for competition spaces, training facilities, locker rooms and student-athlete support areas? 

We have already implemented a cleaning regimen for the weight and fitness facility. After each workout, there is a designated time set aside to properly clean all of the equipment before the next group is allowed to work out. We have a disinfectant spray device and a Clorox 360 machine that can clean larger spaces more efficiently. 

All locker rooms are currently closed. When opened, they will be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis.

What protocols are in place for fall athletics (the general public gathering for events)?

A. Will attendance maximums be implemented at events? This is a fluid situation, and may vary from sport to sport. Gardner-Webb will adhere to protocols set forth by the State of North Carolina and local health recommendations.

B. Will physical distancing measures be implemented at venues/events? At this point, we are preparing to have fall seasons in all our sports. We have been in regular communication with the Big South Conference and all the member institutions.  Gardner-Webb will participate in athletic events with fans present in coordination with health-related protocols and state, regional and local directives. 
Although we have discussed attendance maximums and proper physical distancing, no final decision has been made. We will take our lead from the State of North Carolina and local health officials and follow recommendations concerning attendance and physical distancing. 

Will low-touch Environment Protocols be implemented?

  • Will there be minimized use of hard-tickets? We have developed an online ticket platform for our sports that require a ticket for admission. This will minimize having to physically handle tickets and minimize personal exchanges at ticket windows.
  • Will the University transition from buffet-style food offerings at university-sponsored tents (Bulldog Club)? The food available in these areas will be self-served and grab-and-go options.
  • Will virtual team meetings be introduced to limit close-quarters when possible? All of our athletic teams have implemented virtual team meetings.  The Vice President of Athletics is confident this will continue to be utilized, even when teams are back on campus. 

Will athletic events be offered through virtual (online) means for those wishing to avoid mass gatherings? 

This past year, we were on target to video-stream over 90 home athletic contests. The Big South Conference has an agreement with ESPN that provides ESPN+ as the platform for all conference athletic contests that are streamed. This will continue in 2020-2021.

What health screening protocols will be implemented for visiting athletic teams? 

We are currently working to put a policy in place. The conference office is coordinating efforts to develop a procedure that is manageable and consistent for all visiting teams, so they know what to expect when traveling. 

If games are canceled for ticketed events, will ticket holders be reimbursed? 

If events are cancelled, ticket holders will be reimbursed.