BLACKSBURG Va. – When Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley decided to opt out of the upcoming college football season last week, it was a shock to everyone.
But when he gave his reasons, the decision was easier to understand.
“I tragically lost my mother, Robin, January 2, 2018 to illness,” Caleb said in a recorded statement. “I cannot afford to lose another parent or loved one.”
Farley wrote a piece for NBC’s Football Morning In America on Monday which further explained his position.
“This year at Virginia Tech, at our workouts, I started having deep concerns about staying healthy,” Farley said. “Guys were going home, going to Myrtle Beach, coming back to campus, and we weren’t getting tested. We’re all together, working out, close to each other, and you have no real idea who might have it, if anybody might have it. One day I looked around, and we were like 100-deep in our indoor facility, no masks. My concern grew more and more.”
Farley was considered one of the best defensive backs in the ACC and is a projected first round pick in next year’s NFL Draft. He continued:
“I started being really conflicted about playing,” he said. “What this came down to is, I lost one parent. My dad is so important to me. Growing old with him means so much to me, more than football. I don’t know what I would do if I contracted it and gave it to him, and he passed. I couldn’t live with that. Part of me thought, I put all my eggs into this basket [football] since I was 6 years old . . . just suck it up and play. Try to stay safe. But I couldn’t ignore all the doubts in my head.”
In response, Virginia Tech issued the following statements Monday afternoon:
“I spoke with Caleb earlier today and I feel much better about the context of his comments regarding his personal concerns regarding COVID-19,” said Hokies head coach Justin Fuente. “In our conversation I also told Caleb that I will always love and support him and that I’m looking forward to cheering him on as he pursues his dream of playing in the National Football League. We at Virginia Tech will always wish Caleb Farley and his family the very best."
“One of my most important responsibilities as the head coach of the football program at Virginia Tech is to put the best interests of our team, our players, our coaches and our staff at the forefront of every decision we make,” Fuente continued.
“We are entrusted with that task every day. I have the utmost confidence in medical guidance provided by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mark Rogers and our Associate Athletics Director for Sports Medicine, Mike Goforth, as well as the plan they are implementing along with our campus officials to allow our team to train and prepare for the upcoming season. I appreciate their tireless work and support the procedures they have put in place for our team.”
They also issued the following statement from Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mark Rogers:
“The health and welfare of our student-athletes and staff, as well as the Virginia Tech and surrounding communities continues to be our foremost priority. All Virginia Tech student-athletes are tested for COVID-19 and screened before being cleared to participate in any athletic activities. In addition, follow-up testing protocols are performed on a regular basis in accordance with Centers for Disease Control, ACC and NCAA recommendations.
In addition, daily screening protocols and monitoring measures are in place in accordance with the standards established by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Montgomery County public health officials. An abundance of caution continues to be utilized to ensure all equipment and facilities are sanitized and cleaned appropriately.
Student-athletes and staff have been issued personal protective equipment to wear in indoor areas. The Beamer-Lawson Practice Facility continues to be utilized in an open-air configuration in accordance with health department guidelines. As another safety precaution, all staff members have been issued additional personal protective equipment to wear during workouts and practices. In conjunction with Mike Goforth and Tech’s Sports Medicine team, we will continue to follow the latest guidance from Virginia Tech, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the CDC,” Roger wrote.
Last week, Farley said that Fuente initially tried to talk him out of his decision. He led the ACC with 16 passes defended last year and tied for second with 4 interceptions.
Football players returned to campus in Blacksburg on June for voluntary workouts. The school is not releasing results from any COVID-19 tests they perform.