Sterk: 'Optimistic' about SEC football, fall sports
Guiding the Missouri athletic department during the coronavirus pandemic has qualified as uncharted territory for Jim Sterk.
Sterk, who recently completed his fourth year as the Tigers’ athletic director, said Monday afternoon that leading during COVID-19 has come with plenty of highs and lows.
As of now, though, he’s hopeful about the path forward for fall sports and the 10-game, Southeastern Conference-only football season that’s scheduled to start Sept. 26, only 33 days away from his Monday conversation with reporters via Zoom.
“I’m back to being pretty dang optimistic about what’s going on. I’ve had my highs and lows, and you guys have gone through the ringer as well,” Sterk said. “I was talking to (head men’s basketball coach Cuonzo) Martin about it. All of us, we need some sports to occur, some contests to occur because we’ve been going through the past six months and it’s just been crap the whole six months of dealing with all these different issues.
“We’re missing the highs and lows of that competition. So, one, I’m very hopeful, and two, I’m optimistic. I don’t control the virus, but I think the next two weeks will determine if we can get to that full season and so we’ll see from there.
“Ask me again in two weeks.”
Sterk’s remarks coincided with Missouri announcing 159 positive student COVID-19 cases, or about 0.5% of the student population, on Monday, the first day of on-campus classes since March.
The university has not released student-athlete test numbers since early July, but head football coach Eli Drinkwitz said earlier this month that his team had under a 3% positivity rate.
Boone County’s latest numbers, tracked Wednesday through Sunday, reported 1,112 tests, 323 of which were positive COVID-19 cases, for an alarming 29% infection rate.
Sterk said Monday he didn’t know the exact current rate of student-athletes testing positive for COVID-19, but he hasn’t heard any information contrary to Drinkwitz’s diagnosis of under 3%.
“It falls into the aggregate for the university,” Sterk said of the testing figures. “And so, we’re into that total number. ... We’ve done well. We can do better. Especially with the students coming back, there were more opportunities and more people coming in that potentially could be positive and there were. So you see a little bit of a spike.
“... I’ve gotten that we’re doing alright, OK and so far, so good as far as the university and the number of cases and being able to manage those. I think we’re in as good a place as possible.”