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Syracuse to resume practice Saturday after 'miscommunication' on virus testing

Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said the football team will resume practices Saturday after a "miscommunication" about testing frequency caused numerous players to sit out of Thursday's practice session.

Wildhack said Syracuse plans to test players for COVID-19 weekly during training camp and will increase to three times per week once the season begins, starting the week of Sept. 7.

Syracuse coach Dino Babers had said previously that the school would be testing just every other week, adding that he believed the school's success rate with negative test results was among the nation's best. Syracuse had not released aggregate testing data, but Wildhack said Friday that the school has administered more than 1,200 tests, with five positives.

NCAA regulations require schools to test at least once per week during "preseason/season/postseason" activities.

Players sat out of a scheduled practice Thursday, the third time Orange players had skipped practice in eight days due to coronavirus concerns. Rumors circulated Friday, a scheduled off day for the team, that numerous players could opt out. Wildhack said in a release from the school that the team planned to resume practices Saturday if all testing results from Thursday had been completed.

"Our top priority continues to be the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, fans and campus community members," Wildhack said in the release. "We remain committed to doing everything we can to ensure our student-athletes are and feel safe, supported by and comfortable with the procedures and protocols we have put into place to maintain a healthy environment for them to train and compete."

Syracuse's decision to skip Thursday's practice came the same day as fellow ACC member Pitt canceled its practice after numerous players complained of symptoms tied to COVID-19. The Panthers returned to the field Friday, with those players all testing negative.

At Florida State, a trio of wide receivers also criticized the school's testing protocols on social media Thursday. Coach Mike Norvell insisted the school would test weekly during preseason camp and was in line with ACC standards. Several other high-profile Florida State players quickly chimed in on social media saying they felt safe. On Friday, Norvell said the team was "all on the same page."

Wildhack said Syracuse will continue routine communication with players to ensure they're comfortable with all testing and safety protocols.

"This is a rapidly evolving and fluid situation," Wildhack said. "We will continue to listen to and engage with our student-athletes and make adjustments to our safety strategy as appropriate."