Purdue Athletic Director Mike Bobinski said via Zoom today that he anticipates football being played this calendar year, possibly as soon as October.
"I think everybody's rooting for the earliest possible return," Bobinski said. "It's painful to watch others do this, that's not secret."
Bobinski explained there are certain "benchmarks and medical milestones" that must be reached before fall sports can begin. The most prominent examples Bobinski mentioned were rapid result testing, as well as consistent quarantining and contact-tracing methods across the board.
"My guess is that the best-case scenario for that is somewhere in the month of October," Bobinski said. "I don't think it's in the next two weeks, I do think it's probably a little further out than that."
Rapid-result testing involves mucus samples taken from a patient's throat or nose, which can then provide results in a matter of minutes. Bobinski said that because rapid-result testing often produces false positives, any athlete who produced a positive rapid result test would receive a regular test as a backup or "confirmatory" test.
While no official decisions have been made on the start up of the 2020-2021 basketball season, Bobinski expressed hope and belief that the season will start this year.
"I expect we're gonna play basketball," Bobinski said. "I think it'll probably be a modestly reduced number of games. I think we'll go from whatever the number usually is down to somewhere in the mid-twenties."
Purdue Athletics reported 43 active coronavirus cases as of Sept. 4, with three active cases among student-athletes. Athletics has administered 2,606 tests thus far, meaning the total positivity rate is around 1.7%. Bobinski hailed this as a success, crediting the quality of protocols put in place, as well as the dedication of athletes to keeping themselves and others safe.
"Our protocols have been working really well," he said. "We've had insignificant positive activity from a student athlete perspective."
Those protocols include weekly testing and a screening before student-athletes enter facilities.
Bobinski explained the testing protocol for athletes coming to campus, but did not detail how student-athletes are being monitored while off campus.
"Monitored?" Bobinski asked. "We're not following them off campus."
Along with the loss of sports comes the loss of revenue, something that Purdue Athletics is trying to make up for through donations to the John Purdue Club. Tomorrow being Purdue Day of Giving, Bobinski is expecting to see gift donations rise.
"Previous years its been three to four million dollars," Bobinski said. "I think it will exceed that tomorrow. I'm optimistic about that, but I'm not hanging my hat on anything."