Bohn details athletic department’s response to COVID-19

Athletic director Mike Bohn wrote about the department’s response to COVID-19 in a letter to fans Friday. Bohn also asked fans to email him supportive messages for USC’s student-athletes. (James Wolfe / Daily Trojan)

USC athletic director Mike Bohn detailed the athletic department’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of spring sports in a letter sent to fans Friday.

“In the two weeks since our world suddenly halted, our athletic department has been singularly focused on the student-athletes whom we are unequivocally committed to serving,” the letter read. “As we face our new reality together, our attention has shifted to operational continuity during this extended remote period.”

Bohn said the department has kept in contact with USC’s head coaches and student-athletes and that it has created procedures for them to maintain communication with each other, including weekly virtual team meetings. Bohn said that out of USC’s more than 600 student-athletes, only seven remain on campus, all of whom are under the protection of University and athletics staff. All other student-athletes have been surveyed about updated whereabouts, travel plans, emergency contacts and any needs for assistance, according to the letter.

Bohn said the athletic department has created a team of 14 members to lead the new Remote Athletics Management Model that deals with student-athlete issues such as mental health, medicine, academics and compliance. He also wrote that all of USC’s sports psychology and counseling services are continuing and have moved to a virtual platform. 

“We have in-person crisis services still available on campus for any student-athletes currently in the greater Los Angeles area who may need dedicated support,” the letter read. “We are sending out regular communications on Coping and Wellness and will be hosting a series of virtual Mindfulness Sessions for our student-athletes as we prioritize maintaining connectedness.”

USC’s athletic medicine staff and team physicians are working with the school’s health and hospital staff to provide support for any student-athlete with COVID-19 symptoms, according to the letter. He added that no student-athletes have tested positive for the virus.

Bohn wrote that trainers have continued rehab and physical therapy at various locations near student-athletes’ residences and that performance coaches will send all student-athletes workout equipment to go along with specialized home workout programs.

According to the letter, student-athlete academic services are still operating online, and each student-athlete has been provided an academic adviser and learning specialist for frequent check-ins. 

Bohn said that in the fall semester, USC student-athletes put together their highest cumulative GPA in the last 20 years. 

“Maintaining this record-breaking level of achievement is a top priority,” the letter read.

Bohn, who serves on USC’s COVID-19 task force, praised USC — including President Carol Folt, Provost Chip Zukoski and Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman — for their response to the coronavirus.

“This pandemic is so much greater than sports,” Bohn wrote. “As members of the USC community, I want to assure you that the comprehensive response … has been as masterful and inspirational as anything I’ve experienced in 35+ years as an administrator. During a truly extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime event, I feel deeply fortunate to be guided by the steady hand and resolute leadership of President Folt and her team of trusted advisors and partners.”

Bohn also encouraged fans to email him letters of support for USC’s student-athletes and said he will share some on his social media. 

“As we assess the severe economic impacts on our program as a result of the pandemic, my primary request at this time is for you to show your love and support of our student-athletes and demonstrate the combined power of the Trojan Family,” the letter read. 

Regarding the 2020 football season, Bohn wrote in a different version of the letter sent to ticket holders that season ticket renewal has been extended to May 13, and the next installment processing for those currently on season ticket payment plans will be delayed until July 24.

Bohn said that the 2020 football season and the question of extended eligibility for spring athletes still leave many unanswered questions, and the Pac-12 as well as the NCAA are working together to gain a better sense of the situations moving forward. Bohn said all athletic directors in the Pac-12 hold a conference call with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott each morning to discuss issues related to the coronavirus.

“My hope is that as we successfully flatten the curve over the next few weeks, we will gain clearer visibility into the timeline for returning to normalcy,” Bohn wrote. 

Bohn encouraged fans to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As the preeminent program in the largest market in the world for intercollegiate athletics, it is my hope that we can be a leader in setting the social distancing standard for the rest of the nation,” Bohn wrote. “All of us in the Trojan Family are counting on each other to do our part in defeating our newest opponent, COVID-19.”