Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said he’ll be isolating from his wife, Catherine, a cancer survivor, once football camp opens for the team on July 12, and doesn’t expect to return home until the season concludes.
Clawson said doctors told Catherine that, due to a reduced white blood cell count, she is at a higher risk for complications should she contract COVID-19. Catherine Clawson underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer in 2017.
Clawson said Catherine is now cancer-free and in good health, but the two decided the only safe response would be to remain separated once coaches resume face-to-face interactions with players.
“When I’m working on a daily basis, coaching 110 to 120 players and having a staff of 50, I don’t know how I could go home at night and honestly tell my wife I couldn’t have come in contact with [the coronavirus],” Clawson said. “I love coaching, but I love my wife more. There’s no way I’m going to do anything that would put her at risk.”
On Tuesday, Penn State coach James Franklin told HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” that he’s taking a similar approach to isolate from his family during the season out of fear of infecting his daughter, who has sickle cell disease.
Clawson said several members of his staff are also planning to take similar precautions, and he has told his players that all activities will be voluntary, and all scholarships will be honored, even if a player chooses to sit out due to fears related to the virus.
For those returning, Clawson said the coaching staff has warned them to strictly follow social distancing guidelines and limit any unnecessary contact.
“We’ve told our players that to play college football has always required dedication and sacrifice,” Clawson said, “and if we want to play football this year, they’re going to have to sacrifice more than they ever have before in terms of curtailing social life and not being around large groups of people, and the staff is no different.”
Clawson said the decision to isolate from his wife was difficult, but the conversations surrounding the virus and recent protests against social injustice have underscored a need for coaches to adjust and evolve.
“It’s a very interesting time in our profession,” Clawson said. “For years, the characteristics of a coach that have always been applauded have been the laser-like focus on the game, staying in your office until 2 a.m. watching film, the guy who blocks out everything that’s happening in the world.
“With COVID and social injustice, our jobs are different and changing, and [watching film] doesn’t qualify you to talk about COVID or social injustice. I think we’re learning that’s not an excuse. We can’t bury our heads in a film room. We have to be very aware of what’s going on in society in order to be able to advocate for our players in every way.”