LINCOLN — It’s a story Nebraska coach Scott Frost has wanted to tell for a month.
On Monday, inside Memorial Stadium, he laid out the depth of planning and protocols used by Husker football to test its players for the coronavirus and, in Frost’s view, help keep the community safe and avoid creating a cluster of cases seen in other football programs.
Frost and Nebraska chief of staff Gerrod Lambrecht — using guidance from two University of Nebraska Medical Center experts — started enacting a plan two weeks after NU football players were dismissed from spring practices in March.
A few Huskers never left the area, but some who did for spring break started coming back voluntarily March 27. This core group included quarterback Adrian Martinez, who was the first NU player to go through the plan.
Martinez flew back from California and was directed to move quickly through the airport to a waiting car that had already been installed with a divider. From there, he was driven to a suite-style quarantine dorm on NU’s campus and given a room number. A key had been taped to the door of the suite. There, Martinez waited until April 3, when Nebraska first administered COVID-19 tests to a core group.
Since then, NU has tested more than 250 student-athletes and staff several times. Eight have tested positive. Six have been involved with the football program. Three — two players and a coach — tested positive upon their arrival. The other three tested positive based on community spread.
Frost said the only symptoms experienced by football players were a sore throat, a one-day fever spike or a two-day loss of taste.
Frost said Nebraska never made a firm decision to not release testing numbers, and the decision to announce them Monday was not related to a World-Herald story covering their lack of release. Other schools such as Clemson, Kansas State and Oklahoma State have been reporting positive tests.
“We’ve been elbows deep in this situation for a long time,” Frost said. “As other schools decided to release that information, we’ve been talking for a month for doing an interview like this because we want Nebraskans to feel like we did this in a safe way.
"If I was in a college town where they brought the whole team back, and there are 20 or 30 kids positive, I’d be a little upset. ... It’s important for me to highlight the jobs all of these guys have done to get this done and to make sure people in Lincoln and the state of Nebraska know how important their health was to us in this whole process.”
Frost credited Lambrecht, associate director of football operations Andrew Sims, nutrition director Dave Ellis, strength coach Zach Duval, NU’s administrative leaders and two UNMC experts — Dr. Steven Hinrichs and Dr. Scott Koepsell — for their help in administering the plan.