How future Pitt football opponents are managing COVID-19 on campus


Kaycee Orwig | Assistant Visual Editor

Pitt football has been successful in containing the spread of COVID-19 with very few absences, after seven players missed the first game of the season on Sept. 12 against Austin Peay.

By Tyler Mathes, Staff Writer

Pitt’s football program has done well to contain the spread of COVID-19 this season. And how have the Panthers been able to keep positive cases so low? Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi spoke last week about his team’s collective health and what players have done to be able to play every game. 

“Our figures have been low from the beginning,” Narduzzi said. “Really haven’t done anything different than just continued to have a constant reminder that it can happen to you, whether it’s sticking up all the postponed games from last week or this week. You know, you’re one game away.”

Pitt has had very few absences since seven players missed the first game of the season on Sept. 12 against Austin Peay.

An uptick in cases at the beginning of September worried many Pitt students and fans. But the five-day moving average of positive cases has been on the decline, with only six new cases in the most recent report.

Pitt’s remaining schedule consists of seven ACC games — two home and five away— and most of its opponents have had similar success keeping their teams free from the virus and on the field.

Boston College, Oct. 10

Off to a strong start this year, Boston College hasn’t missed a game yet. BC’s played three total games, with two of them at home in Alumni Stadium, where the Eagles have yet to allow fans in, similar to Pitt with Heinz Field.

Boston College’s testing between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4 showed 13 total positives out of 5,281 tests. None of those 13 positives include any players from the football team, but all football players and team personnel continue to be tested three times per week in accordance with ACC guidelines.

University of Miami, Oct. 17

Similar to Boston College, Miami is also three for three in scheduled games this season, but has allowed spectators in its home stadium. The Hurricanes allow for 13,000 fans at each home game, about 20% of the total capacity at Hard Rock Stadium.

Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz redefined the idea of a “bubble” for his players coming into the season, and it’s worked out well for them so far. Diaz told his players to be aware of anyone they allow within 6 feet of them, no matter where they are. Diaz also pushes his players to remain vigilant, and never get complacent with negative tests.

The University of Miami COVID-19 dashboard shows positive tests on the decline since Sept. 16, with 14 active student cases as of Tuesday.

The University has run 20,413 tests since Aug. 16, with only 476 of them returning positive.

Miami’s next home game won’t come until the Oct. 17 contest against Pitt.

Notre Dame, Oct. 24

The Fighting Irish entered their first, and potentially only, season in the ACC with back-to-back wins before a COVID-19 outbreak postponed their game against Wake Forest on Sept. 26.

University administrators believe the outbreak, which encompassed 39 players at its peak, stemmed from the seven players who tested positive the Monday after the team’s second game of the season against the USF Bulls on Sept. 19.

The student body’s total number of positive cases continues to grow, though is much less severe than an August outbreak that moved classes online. Notre Dame reported 785 positive cases as of Monday, an increase of 34 cases in the last week.

Florida State, Nov. 7

Unlike other schools in the conference, FSU lacks even basic transparency on the status of its team’s COVID-19 tests. When Mike Norvell, head coach of the Seminoles, tested positive two weeks ago, it was the first positive test FSU acknowledged.

FSU began to release weekly case updates on Sept. 20, after previously releasing only aggregate data. Since Sept. 20, 104 members of the FSU community, 98 students and six employees, tested positive.

Georgia Tech, Nov. 14

Georgia Tech is one of the schools allowing fans in person this fall. Bobby Dodd Stadium is expected to be at 20% capacity, with 11,000 fans, when the Panthers travel to Atlanta for the penultimate game of the season.

The Yellow Jackets have played all three of their games so far this year, although they probably would like mulligans on the last two after back-to-back blowout losses to Central Florida and Syracuse.

Georgia Tech as a university has also been excellent at containing the coronavirus. After seeing an initial spike in cases in late August, the school’s seven-day moving average has dropped to hover around two to three.

Virginia Tech, Nov. 21

The Hokies were slated to kick off their season Sept. 12 at home against NC State and then host Virginia the next weekend. But NC State had a COVID-19 outbreak that forced them to push the opening game back two weeks.

Then they couldn’t field a full team against Virginia. Finally, on Sept. 26, the Hokies started their season down 23 players and four coaches.

The university itself has struggled with outbreaks on campus as well, with 113 positive students in the most recent seven-day period. Blacksburg, Virginia, and Virginia Tech agreed to prohibit tailgating for fall sporting events in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus on game day.

Virginia Tech’s growing rate of positive tests does not bode well for the fate of its future football games.

Clemson, Nov. 28

Allowing 19,000 fans into Memorial Stadium for each of Clemson’s 11 games this regular season may seem like a big risk, but Memorial Stadium seats upward of 80,000, allowing plenty of room for fans to socially distance. But like many other schools, tailgating is prohibited this season around the stadium nicknamed “Death Valley.”

As the top team in the nation, head coach Dabo Swinney and his roster loaded with five-star talent have barely seen any positive cases since a much more worrisome outbreak back in June.

Clemson has had more than 1,500 new positive cases in the last three weeks, and the positivity rate on campus has climbed from 4.4% the week of Sept. 13 to 6.2% for the week of Sept. 27, likely to the chagrin of Clemson fans.