Former Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley said he opted out of this season because he had deep concerns about staying healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic, and accused the Hokies of inadequate testing and masking procedures.
In a first-person account to NBC Sports' "Football Morning in America," Farley wrote, "Guys were going home, going to Myrtle Beach, coming back to campus, and we weren't getting tested. We're all together, working out, close to each other, and you have no real idea who might have it, if anybody might have it. One day I looked around, and we were like 100-deep in our indoor facility, no masks. My concern grew more and more."
In response, the school offered a detailed assessment of its testing and mask-wearing procedures in a statement from Mark Rogers, the chief medical officer for Virginia Tech athletics.
Rogers said all student-athletes are tested for COVID-19 before being cleared to participate in athletics activities, and follow-up testing is performed on a regular basis in line with Centers for Disease Control, ACC and NCAA recommendation. Student-athletes were given personal protective equipment to wear in indoor areas, and the indoor practice facility is being used in an open-air configuration.
"In addition, daily screening protocols and monitoring measures are in place in accordance with the standards established by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Montgomery County public health officials. An abundance of caution continues to be utilized to ensure all equipment and facilities are sanitized and cleaned appropriately," the statement said.
"As another safety precaution, all staff members have been issued additional personal protective equipment to wear during workouts and practices. In conjunction with Mike Goforth and Tech's Sports Medicine team, we will continue to follow the latest guidance from Virginia Tech, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the CDC."
Farley, a projected first-round NFL draft pick, said it was important to him to keep his family safe after losing his mother to breast cancer in 2018.
"I started being really conflicted about playing," Farley wrote. "What this came down to is, I lost one parent. My dad is so important to me. Growing old with him means so much to me, more than football. I don't know what I would do if I contracted it and gave it to him, and he passed. I couldn't live with that. Part of me thought, I put all my eggs into this basket since I was 6 years old ... just suck it up and play. Try to stay safe. But I couldn't ignore all the doubts in my head."
Farley said he will spend the fall training for the NFL draft and preparing for the combine in February.
Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said that he talked with Farley on Monday.
"I spoke with Caleb earlier today and I feel much better about the context of his comments regarding his personal concerns regarding COVID-19," Fuente said in a statement. "In our conversation I also told Caleb that I will always love and support him and that I'm looking forward to cheering him on as he pursues his dream of playing in the National Football League. We at Virginia Tech will always wish Caleb Farley and his family the very best."