Notre Dame football plans to resume practice Wednesday

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The Notre Dame football team plans to return to practice Wednesday.

A Notre Dame spokesperson confirmed the plan after head coach Brian Kelly provided details to ESPN’s Heather Dinich on Tuesday.

If the plan remains unchanged, the Irish players not sidelined from positive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing will be allowed to resume practice in preparation for Notre Dame’s home game against Florida State on Oct. 10. Practices were halted on Sept. 22 because of COVID-19 concerns.

No. 5 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 ACC) has a previously planned open date Saturday following last week’s postponement of a road game at Wake Forest, which has been rescheduled for Dec. 12. Kelly told ESPN that he expects almost 90 percent of the team to be able to resume practice by Saturday.

On Monday, Notre Dame announced that 25 players were currently in isolation from positive COVID-19 tests and another 14 players were in quarantine as a result of contact tracing. Eighteen of those positive test results came last Tuesday through Sunday.

According to ACC protocols, players who test positive must spend 10 days in isolation and undergo cardiac testing before returning to action. The period for quarantines brought on by contact tracing is 14 days.

In his interview with ESPN, Kelly said team doctors determined the outbreak was linked to the team eating a pregame meal together before the Sept. 19 game against South Florida and one player vomiting on the sideline during the game.

“Throughout our entire time together, we had not had one meal where we sat down together,” Kelly told ESPN. “Everything was grab and go. We get into our game situation where we have pregame meal together, and that cost us. Big. We had somebody who was asymptomatic, and it spread like wildfire throughout our meeting area, where we were eating and then it got guys in contact tracing.”

As a result, Notre Dame will eat its pregame meals in a larger space, where players can better keep their distance from each other, Kelly said.

The player vomiting on the sideline was treated for dehydration and tested positive the following Monday, Kelly told ESPN. The Irish will now have rapid antigen tests available on the sideline to better diagnose issues immediately.

“In trying to discern the difference between somebody who may be dehydrated in a game and having the effects of COVID on the sideline, [it] becomes very tricky,” Kelly told ESPN. “Just being vigilant and understanding that this thing can hide in so many different areas make it a tricky proposition, even if you’re doing all of the right things.”

USF has yet to report any positive COVID-19 tests directly linked to its game at Notre Dame, though it did postpone last weekend’s game against Florida Atlantic as a precaution while contact tracing from the ND game. USF was already missing players because of COVID-19 concerns prior to the game.

USF head coach Jeff Scott said Monday that he’s very optimistic the Bulls will be able to play Saturday against Cincinnati.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told ESPN that his team’s COVID-19 outbreak was linked to a team pregame meal before the South Florida game Sept. 19 and a player who later tested positive vomiting on the sideline during the game.