A total of 14 Oklahoma football players have tested positive for the coronavirus, along with two of the 72 staff members who were tested, the school announced Wednesday as it began voluntary workouts.
As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the athletic department also announced it has implemented budget cuts of approximately $13.7 million, including a 10% salary reduction for any employee earning $1 million or more per year. The changes to the budget account for COVID-19 expenses, including testing protocols and increased safety measures.
According to the university, 111 football players were tested Monday and only seven tested positive, but there were another seven positive cases that previously existed. Of those 14 positive tests, two players have already recovered.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was not available for comment, but athletic director Joe Castiglione said in the statement that as the pandemic evolves, there could be additional cost-cutting measures. Riley made $6 million in 2019.
“All of us understand that a number of circumstances will unfold in the weeks ahead,” Castiglione said. “Our staff continues to monitor our expense and income projections closely and we’ll take other actions, as necessary.”
The athletic department will continue to honor all financial aid and services provided to student-athletes, including accommodations, for extended eligibility.
In the Big 12, where voluntary workouts were allowed to begin June 15, Oklahoma opted to wait until July 1. Castiglione told ESPN last month that the decision was “significantly influenced” by information from a variety of medical experts, including the availability of tests.
“We just got to the point where we just felt like the risk of bringing student-athletes back in early June far outweighed any potential gains we would have by having them come into our facilities for voluntary workouts,” he said. “We are not yet in a place where we can eliminate the risk of contracting the virus. We’re talking about risk mitigation, not risk elimination.”
Oklahoma is hardly the lone College Football Playoff contender that has reported more than a dozen positive coronavirus tests as athletes have returned to campuses for voluntary workouts. Since it began testing on June 1, Clemson has conducted 430 tests, with a total of 47 positive results. LSU, which began voluntary workouts on June 9, placed 30 or more players in quarantine, according to a report in Sports Illustrated.
Later this month, programs are scheduled to transition from the voluntary workouts to the mandatory “summer access” period.