College Sports Has Reported at Least 6,629 Virus Cases. There Are Many More.

The N.C.A.A. does not track coronavirus cases, but a New York Times analysis shows the pandemic’s toll across college athletics. Many universities have kept their case counts from the public.

Wisconsin had to cancel two football games this season due to coronavirus outbreaks on the team.Credit…Morry Gash/Associated Press

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By Alan Blinder, Lauryn Higgins and Benjamin Guggenheim

More than 6,600 college athletes, coaches and staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus this year, a dispiriting measure of the pathogen’s reach across the United States and its spread among some of the country’s most closely monitored people.

At least 6,629 people who play and work in athletic departments that compete in college football’s premier leagues have contracted the virus, according to a New York Times analysis. The vast majority of those infections have been reported since Aug. 15, as players, coaches and the staff members around them prepared for and navigated the fall semester, including football season.

The actual tally of cases during the pandemic is assuredly far larger than what is shown by The Times’s count, the most comprehensive public measure of the virus in college sports. The Times was able to gather complete data for just 78 of the 130 universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level of college football. Some of those schools released the statistics only in response to requests filed under public records laws.

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