Older college coaches more at-risk for severe illness from COVID-19


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As universities across the country plan for the fall semester, health officials have urged professors who are more at-risk (65 and older or with underlying health conditions) to take the fall off from teaching, but the risk on college campuses extends beyond the classroom.

What’s the difference between a college professor who meets the CDC’s guidelines for more at-risk and a college coach?

“The risk though for a older coach is the exact same for an older teacher,” said Skyline emergency medical specialist Dr. Marshall Hall. “It doesn’t matter where you get the disease, but if you’re older and you catch coronavirus, you’re going to, on average, have a more difficult time with this than if you’re younger.”

As progress is made on how to have college football this fall in a safe way, the light is generally shined on the student-athletes, but there’s a lot more that goes into it including coaches. Currently there are 8 head coaches at the FBS level over the age of 65 and 16 over the age of 60. The most prominent coach in that older age group is six-time National Championship-winning head coach Nick Saban who is 68 years old.

Age is just one part of it. The count doesn’t include underlying health conditions or other members

“Being around people in close quarters such as a locker room or a team bus, that’s a time when the risk of transmission of diseases is definitely elevated.”

Coaches who are considered more at-risk may have a difficult decision ahead of them, or may just have to change the way they do things.

“If you’re a coach and you’re in one of those high-risk groups and you’re out at practice, maybe this is a year in which you try to stand back a bit and try to maintain that separation from players because you don’t want to have that transmission from players to yourself.”

It’s a season of change for football. From the NFL to high school, News 2 digs deeper into the impact COVID-19 is having on the game.
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