SEATTLE — University of Washington head football coach Jimmy Lake held a news conference Friday for the first time since the Pac-12 canceled fall sports earlier this week.
Lake began his news conference by singling out the hard work of his strength and conditioning coaches, trainers and entire medical staff for their continued work throughout the pandemic. He also thanked President Ana Mari Cauce and Athletic Director Jen Cohen for their “amazing support through a wide pandemic that none of us saw coming.”
Lake said the conference made the right decision to cancel fall sports as more questions than answers about COVID-19 remain.
“The number one thing is the health and safety of our players,” Lake said. “I don’t want our team to be guinea pigs. I don’t want our staff to be guinea pigs. If things are not going to be safe then we need to err on the side of caution.”
Lake said given the health experts inside the program, they will be able to navigate through the pandemic.
“I know that when the time is right, we’ll be ready to go,” Lake said.
Associate Athletics Director for Health and Wellness Robert Scheideggder said a particularly tough challenge is the prevalence of COVID-19 in cities across the Pac-12.
Many of the schools in the Pac-12 are in major metropolitan areas (Seattle, Los Angeles, Phoenix, etc.)
“The second (challenge) is availability of testing and inconsistencies in that across our conference,” Scheideggder said.
Scheideggder said the final challenge the conference is facing is the unknown complications, particularly concerning cardiac issues in athletes, that experts are learning about COVID-19.
“There’s sort of two things you can do with unknowns,” Scheideggder said. “You can move forward and hope for the best and I’m never going to use that word hope when we talk about our student athlete’s health and safety.”
Lake acknowledged the disappointment among the fan base of the canceled season, but offered a direct message about their commitment to preparation.
“I promise you this,” Lake said. “We’re going to train. We’re going to continue to prepare and when the medical experts tell us we can play, you can believe it, the Husky football team will be ready to compete.”
Lake concluded by mentioning the financial challenges the entire athletic department is facing and asked for support following the launch of the “Husky All In” campaign Friday morning.
“Anything that our fans, our donors and our boosters can do to help us… is much needed,” Lake said. “We need you guys now more than ever.”
Watch a full replay of the news conference in the video player above.
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