Alcorn State’s football game this Saturday against South Alabama is in serious jeopardy because the team no longer employs an athletic trainer. The team has been unable to practice all week without a trainer on staff who can look after player injuries.
A full-time athletic trainer, Fred Worthy, was hired early at the end of January, but left the job in July to return to a private-sector health care job. The Alcorn State athletic department did not immediately hire someone to replace him, and instead outsourced the job on a part-time basis to two trainers.
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The two part-time athletic trainers tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the team’s game last weekend against Northwestern State, so Worthy was brought back on just to get the team through the weekend. But after players came in Sunday to receive treatment, Worthy informed the staff he would not be able to come back on Monday.
What this story boils down to is a lack of spending from Alcorn State, though nobody will likely go on the record to express that opinion. Head coach Fred McNair let his frustration boil over publicly, though he didn’t elaborate.
“This is something that needs to be fixed. This is an administration issue,” McNair said.
The entire situation feels eerily similar to Grambling State’s 2013 program boycott over the administration’s funding of their program. Rumors around the Alcorn State campus suggest that the team’s 2020 season cancellation, officially attributed to COVID-19, was actually a result of understaffing. Apparently, neither a full-time strength coach nor an athletic trainer were available last season for Alcorn State.
Now headed into the marquee FBS game of the year, a game in which Alcorn is slated to make a much-needed $360,000 for participating, the team is staring down a forfeit (and breach of contract) because they can’t guarantee the safety of their players.
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“We’re not going to put them on the field if we don’t think they’re safe,” an anonymous source within the program said. “We, as a staff, aren’t going to do that.”