Seminoles coach Mike Norwell has categorically denied the allegation, a day after Dabo Swinney suggested Florida State should be eliminated last Saturday using the Clemson player’s positive COVID-19 test as an excuse, saying the decision to postpone was entirely made by medical staff.
When asked if COVID-19 was the cause of the postponement, Norwell said “of course,” and reiterated that his coaches and players were eager to play Saturday, before a Clemson player was allowed to travel to Tallahassee, Florida, with a team of symptoms shown earlier in the week before the school’s medical staff determined it was unsafe.
“Football coaches are not doctors, some of us may think we are, but medical advisers have a reason to make decisions based on the information provided,” Norwell said Monday. “It’s unfortunate the opportunity is delayed, but there’s a reason people who make those decisions have that responsibility.”
Norwell said he first learned about the positive test on Clemson’s team during a standard Friday evening call between medical professionals at each school. According to the FSU, Clemson reported to the school of a symptom player who participated in the practice and traveled with the team. Clemson noted that formal ethics were followed regarding masks and social distances, and that the player was isolated during the journey.
In a Saturday morning call that did not include coaches, Norwell said it was determined by Florida state medical staff that it was unsafe to continue the game.
Clemson offered to reconsider players and staff and delay the game for a day or two, but the FSU refused.
Swinney downplayed Florida State’s decision on Sunday, suggesting the Seminoles simply did not want to play.
Norwell said Monday he would try to contact Swinney after the decision was made Saturday morning, but the two did not connect.
“We were excited to play this game,” Norwell said. “We are a young team, we need every representative we can get. I do not care what any other coach says or thinks.”
Norwell tested positive for COVID-19 in October, a day before the team’s opening date, after which he missed the Seminoles’ match against Miami. He said his own experience with the virus helped shape his cautious approach to reducing the spread.
Although the state of Florida has not released test numbers this year, a source has said that the football team did not get a positive test result after Norwell.