Coach concerned COVID-19 could hurt Clemson’s plan for a return to campus

Coach concerned COVID-19 could hurt Clemson’s plan for a return to campus

Baseball

Coach concerned COVID-19 could hurt Clemson’s plan for a return to campus

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Though his current players do not report to campus until the week fall classes begin on Aug. 19, Clemson baseball coach Monte Lee is concerned if his players will be able to make it on campus.

This past Friday, Clemson Athletics reported 25 confirmed cases where student-athletes and staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Twenty-one of those athletes came from the football team. Since student athletes reported to Clemson’s campus to begin voluntary workouts on June 8, 28 people have tested positive for the virus.

But the spike is just not on Clemson’s athletic campus. The numbers of positive cases have spiked in the Clemson area, as well as all cross the state of South Carolina in the last week. DHEC reported 907 confirmed cases in South Carolina on Sunday, including 26 across the lake in Oconee County, a single-day high for the county. There were 5,622 people tested, a 16.1 percent positive rate in the state.

“I hope our numbers across the state could start to trend in a better direction because if it doesn’t, then I am concerned that our guys will not be able to come back a little bit early,” Lee said Monday during a Zoom call with 10 members from the media, including The Clemson Insider.

Typically, the Clemson baseball program will already have players on campus. Generally, incoming freshmen report to campus during second summer session, which started on Monday, so they can get acclimated to being a college student.

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, freshman baseball players will not be able to report to campus until Aug. 8, 11 days before fall classes begin.

“Typically, our incoming freshmen will come in the second session of summer school and those guys get to take two classes in the summer. They get acclimated to campus life, tutoring, study hall, five days a week in the weight room. It is an awesome opportunity for our incoming freshmen,” Lee said. “Our incoming freshman now will not get that opportunity. So, what we were planning on doing is having our incoming freshmen come in about two weeks before school starts. Their report date is Aug. 8. That is still on schedule, and hopefully that stays on schedule if the numbers, hopefully, start to trend in the right direction where it is safe for them to come back to campus.”

Lee is hoping his freshmen will get a little bit acclimated to college life and being a student-athlete in college with the extra 11 days.

“But we are not quite sure that is going to happen or not, we are just going to have to wait and see what the month of July looks like,” the Clemson coach said. “From our incoming freshmen standpoint, those kids are not going to have quite the same opportunities that our classes in the past have had, as far as getting ready for the fall. So, we are going to have to take our time with those kids.”

The good news is a lot of the recruiting class, according to Lee, has found a way to play baseball this summer.

“Kind of like the old days, instead of coming early for summer school, they are playing just another summer of summer baseball,” he said. “There is a lot of baseball being played, believe it or not, at the amateur level … high school kids, graduated seniors. The wooden bat leagues have shut down for the most part for our [current players] that are already here. We actually do have some [freshmen] who are playing and staying in shape and those kinds of things, as far as our incoming group.”

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