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CU Boulder’s football director ticketed for health violation after more than 100 players hike Mount Sanitas

Photos of University of Colorado football players hiking up Mount Sanitas on Sept. 18, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

Boulder has ticketed the director of the University of Colorado Boulder’s football team for a team hike on Mount Sanitas on Thursday that saw more than 100 players on the trails in violation of public health orders.

CU Boulder’s director of football operations Bryan McGinnis was issued a summons Friday for violation of a public health order, according to Boulder officials.

McGinnis was also ticketed for failure to obtain a large group permit, as Boulder Open Space and Mountain Park officials said the football team failed to apply for the permits necessary for a group of more than 24 on open space land.

“The city continues to prioritize education of public health orders rather than issuing citations,” Boulder officials wrote in a statement. “However, law enforcement officers will issue citations for especially egregious behaviors like what occurred during this recent hike.”

According to rangers who investigated the incident after hikers brought the incident to their attention on Thursday, a total of 108 people were in the group and “that many participants were not wearing masks or observing social distancing when passing community members on the trail.”

Video obtained by the Daily Camera from witnesses shows a long line of players hiking up the trail, most of them not wearing masks.

Face coverings are required on city trails and trailheads and other public spaces in Boulder County when people cannot maintain 6 feet of distance pursuant to a Boulder County Public Health Order.

Groups of more than 10 are also discouraged on trails.

“City open space is a valuable resource in supporting community members’ physical and emotional health,” Boulder officials said in a statement. “The city requests all community members follow all public health guidance and responsible recreation reminders.”

CU Boulder Athletic Director Rick George issued a statement Friday about the issue.

“Our athletic department has been diligent in ensuring COVID-19 health and safety protocols are in place and followed by our staff and student-athletes,” George said in the statement. “All student-athletes are tested for COVID-19 frequently to ensure they are healthy while training. As noted in the county’s self-quarantine directive for students, intercollegiate athletic training is an allowable activity. Our football team took a team hike on Thursday for training purposes. All players who took part had recently tested negative for COVID-19.

“All of this said, we acknowledge the lapse in judgment and apologize for our football team partaking in a group activity like this on public open space amid the current COVID-19 climate. We share in the community’s concern and anxiety about the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and we do not tolerate actions that are contrary to public health orders. We will address this with our football program, and continue to educate our coaches, staff and student-athletes about the importance of complying with public health orders, including wearing masks and physical distancing at all times while in public.”

Boulder officials said CU Boulder has been cooperating with the investigation and “expressed regret about the incident and have assured the city they are taking steps to avoid further similar occurrences.” The release also said Boulder officials were under the understanding that CU Boulder may take disciplinary action under its student code of conduct and health and safety regulations.

“CU remains a full partner in the efforts of the city and the county to keep our community safe,” Boulder officials said in the statement.

CU Boulder has reported more than 600 cases of the coronavirus, with more than 100 reported on Wednesday and Thursday. Boulder County has reported 3,309 cases with 79 deaths.