Samford Athletics recently launched a monthly interview series with athletics director Martin Newton, hosted by athletics director of video and broadcast Jon McAfoos, to share news and updates throughout the school year.
Samford students left campus in mid-March due to COVID-19 and did not return until fall-sport student-athletes came back in July. Newton talked about how different campus was without having students around during that time.
"I will tell you, mid-March to mid-July was miserable. I get energy from these young kids, so it's great to have them back," Newton said.
The fall sports seasons were postponed, with the hopes of playing in the spring. That is a decision that Newton said he understands and supports, even though he wishes he could see the school's student-athletes competing this fall.
"I'm disappointed that they're not able to participate in fall sports," Newton said. "I understand the reasoning behind it and support that reasoning; their health and safety will always be number one."
Newton praised the sport performance staff for setting up a plan for bringing student-athletes back to campus and executing that plan.
"Matt Price and our sport performance staff did a tremendous job, back into mid-April, early May when they started planning when we started to see CDC guidelines and then Department of Health guidelines on what we needed to do to safely bring our student-athletes back," Newton said. "We hit the ground running July 24, we brought 183 student-athletes back, every one of them was tested. We spread it out. We had an unbelievable plan for contact tracing, which quite frankly is more complicated than the testing."
Newton also talked about the measures that are still in place to ensure the student-athletes are kept as safe as possible.
"We continue to do daily symptom checks with temperature checks and a form online with the Team Works app that we have for our student-athletes that they go on and they have to fill out whether or not they have symptoms," Newton said. "Our coaches have all bought in, so everybody is really doing their part to try to make sure that even though we're not having competitions that we continue to practice, but more importantly that they continue to go to school in person."
Newton talked about how things have been on campus since classes started back in late August. Newton talked about how important it is that everyone on campus works together to keep everyone safe during this time.
"It's got to be a total team effort, and we have to make sure we're protecting each other," Newton said. "That's challenging for a university. You have five thousand-plus students on this campus and that's challenging. So, how we communicate that and how we get students to understand that and buy-in so that we can make it until the end of Thanksgiving is key, and so far, I'm really proud of what our student-athletes and coaches have done."