PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU football coach Kalani Sitake says missing spring football practice is a small price to pay for trying to stay safe.
“Human lives matter more than anything right now,” said Sitake in his first online interview since the outbreak of the coronavirus. “My job and everybody else’s job is there is more than sports. So, we’re focused on trying to take care of mankind, be sensitive and be as supportive as we can to others. We’re obviously disappointed in a lot of things and not being able to compete. But there are some things that are just more important than sports right now.”
Sitake isn’t sure when teams will be allowed to practice, or if they’ll just go straight into Fall Camp in August.
“Whatever they say we have, I’ll go with it,” he said. “As long as we’re all given the same amount of time. If we’re all given the same amount of time to prepare for the season, we’ll be ready for it.”
As for the possibility of cancelling the entire season, Sitake is not thinking about that just yet.
“I’m not really worried about that,” he said. “I’m more focused on here and now and the day to day. Worrying about August in March does us no good.”
In the meantime, the players are trying to stay in shape on their own with some guidance from the BYU trainers.
“We have all that in place,” Sitake said. “We sent out our workouts for the guys to do. It’s been modified knowing they’re not going to have an opportunity to be in the gym. So, we’re doing a lot of different things. More running and agility skills, but we have those workouts out to our players.”
Sitake has a unique problem in dealing with missionaries being sent home early. Do they get to g on scholarship right away? Does their eligibility clocks begin when they return home, or will the NCAA grant those players a waiver? Sitake said they are still figuring that out.
“Currently there are 47 players on our team that are on missions now. I ask them for some patience and understanding. Many of them are getting reassigned to different areas, so right now we’re still focused on the present. The scholarship numbers are always an issue when you’re dealing with missionaries and the timing of returning from missions. But, this is just another adjustment that we have to make.”
Overall, Sitake says he has been really proud of the way his players are handling the crisis.
“I can honestly say that I’ve been really impressed with our players,” he said. “We have about a third of our players that have gone home. We’re talking with them, staying in contact with them, communicating with them. But it’s our job as coaches and as mentors to help educate them as much as possible.”