Kansas coach Les Miles: Players opting out because of COVID-19 concerns are opting ‘into the pandemic’

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One of the principle talking points within college football is whether players are safer from the coronavirus pandemic on campus, in their facilities and playing the game. Like many coaches, Kansas’ Les Miles feels they are. But in speaking with reporters, he took that philosophy a step further by saying players choosing to opt out of the season are making life more dangerous for themselves.

“If they opt out because of the pandemic, then they opt into the pandemic,” Miles said, via Matt Galloway of the Topeka Capital-Journal. “The last I saw it, the pandemic was worldwide, OK? So I don’t know what their advantage is to turn at this point away from what would be a good finish to a college career and opportunity to advance their abilities and then have a choice whether to go off to the NFL or to stay and compete. So we’d love to have them stay and compete.”

Miles noted that at least one Jayhawks player, offensive lineman Antione Frazier, has opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Frazier has also entered the transfer portal. “That’s a decision that he made,” Miles said. 

In all, about 50 players from the Power Five level have opted out of the 2020-21 season. Their reasons vary. Some are concerned with long-term effects from COVID-19, while others are more interested in pursuing their NFL careers instead of risking injury in a season that’s not guaranteed to be played fully. Of note, however, Vanderbilt linebacker Dimitri Moore opted back into playing this fall after doing more research on the coronavirus, as well as speaking with medical professionals. 

Being part of the team during the pandemic can have its benefits. CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reports the Big 12 will have its members conduct three tests — two PCR tests and one rapid antigen test — per week. But, the fact also remains that there is no bubble for college football and that player safety is but one aspect of the potential liability universities face in holding a season. 

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