Coaches, players react to UNC system, ACC not requiring COVID-19 vaccine for teams prior to fall seasons


Wake Forest University head coach Dave Clawson calls out a play during a game.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) – COVID-19 Protocols, testing and missed games made last college football season brutal. 

North Carolina State head football coach Dave Doeren adjusts his headset during a game.

“It was hold your breath, clear the hurdle,” Wake Forest head football coach Dave Clawson said. “Then, get tested again the next day, and you hold your breath again, it was just joyless.”

This season, the Atlantic Coastal Conference isn’t mandating player vaccinations, instead leaving it up to its member institutions.

Currently, half of the ACC’s 14 football teams have reached the 85-percent vaccination rate threshold.

But, schools in the University of North Carolina system won’t require them, and when North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren was asked about the decision, he said it wasn’t his.

“My job is to help these men grow, compete, put them in the best places they can be and keep them as safe as I can keep them,” Doeren said. “At the same time it’s not my job to make medical decisions for our football team.”

However, most of his players made the decision to get vaccinated anyway, even though it was for different reasons.

“Most everyone on our team has got it,” NC State linebacker Payton Wilson said. “I’m fully vaccinated.”

“You know, I did get my vaccine, because I told them (my team) earlier I want to take care of my teammates,” NC State center Grant Gibson said. “But I also want to take care of my mom and dad.”

Seven ACC schools, including Duke University and Wake Forest University, did make vaccinations mandatory before students return to campus. This was in hopes of giving the coaches at these institutions one less thing to worry about.

“After last year it’s not one less thing,” Clawson said. “It’s 130 players, times three times a week.”

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) school Shaw University, a private institution, followed suit of its public state colleges with a similar vaccination mandate announced this week.

“I think it was a great thing making it mandatory,” Shaw University head football coach Adrian Jones said. “Look at NC State when they played Vanderbilt (in the College World Series). I brought that up in the meeting and was like we could be in the CIAA Championship and we don’t have a vaccinated person and it would shut us down.”

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