Rutgers soccer players have seen family members fall ill with the coronavirus and some have been killed, said coach Greg Schiano.
Speaking to the media for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed Big Ten Conference University and its sports programs last month, Schiano said on Thursday that his greatest concern was the health of his players and their families.
Schiano said that none of his soccer players were known to have the virus.
Once he heard of a virus-related illness in a player’s family, Schiano said he would phone the player to ask how the school could help him. It also offers information on how a player can protect themselves.
“It’s difficult,” said Schiano, who spoke for about 25 minutes. “I think we have had players who have lost people because of the virus. It’s sad. Things you don’t even think about, like they have to provide virtual family service to their missing loved one. These are difficult things. “
Rutgers spokesman Hasim Phillips said the university would not comment on those who died out of respect for the families involved.
The New Jersey-based university has banned students from returning to campus until at least August 14. Schiano did not know if this would apply to the football team if this date was respected. He refused to speculate on possible scenarios for the coming season, if there is one. He has emergency plans.
Schiano, who was hired in December to re-build the program that has won three in the past two seasons, said his day was spent at home with his wife and four children. He has video chats with staff, players, the conference, and sports director Pat Hobbs. Recruitment is always a subject.
It was a little different on Thursday. He had a team meeting.
With spring training canceled due to the health crisis and new virtual teaching staff, Schiano said the football team is a little behind where it wants to be.
“What we spent a week installing right now would have been installed in a day if we had practiced,” said Schiano. “Without the urgency to go out there and do it, we are able to spend a much longer period on each phase.”
The hope is that players will better understand what coaches want by slowing things down. This had just repeated things in practice.
On other matters, Schiano said that the stay-at-home warrant has increased his use of video conferencing and that he plans to use it more.
He also said he liked the idea of participating in team meetings, saying that seven captains during his first 11-year stint at Rutgers were former participants.
While the coronavirus caused adversity and people were isolated at home, Schiano found a positive result.
“One of the things that I think has been really cool is that I have had more family dinners in the past month than I have probably had in the past 20 years. It was a great advantage in a very difficult time, ”he said.
This is Schiano’s second tour to Rutgers. He returns to a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2014. The Scarlet Knights have won 13 games in the past five seasons.
The position of head coach is Schiano’s first since a dismal two-year stint with the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012-13. He was almost hired by Tennessee in 2017, but the deal collapsed after allegations that he did not report any sexual abuse to Penn State during his stay there.
Schiano and Penn State have denied the allegations.