The return of students to the University of Alabama’s campus has brought large crowds to bars and sparked frustration from at least one Crimson Tide football player.
Senior offensive lineman Chris Owens shared a photo Sunday afternoon on Twitter of The Strip in Tuscaloosa, where a long line of people — many not wearing masks — had formed outside a bar:
The photography editor from the school’s student newspaper shared more pictures of crowds outside bars and a lack of mask-wearing at those establishments:
Kristen Saban Setas, the daughter of coach Nick Saban, added her voice to the issue Sunday afternoon:
Owens’ public frustration with the crowds comes one day after Auburn wide receiver Anthony Schwartz shared similar feelings about crowds of people without masks on that school’s campus after students returned.
Alabama begins classes Wednesday and students are required to be tested for COVID-19 before arriving on campus. However, the school has banned large gatherings and put in place rules about facial coverings and social distancing.
Nick Saban noted the SEC moved the start of its football season back to Sept. 26 in part to assess how the return of students to campus affected the COVID-19 positivity rate among football players, which has been kept under control in recent weeks by strict procedures for players.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne last week said the university has tried to create an “umbrella” over its players but not necessarily a “bubble.” Players still have freedom around campus, although quarterback Mac Jones and running back Najee Harris said Friday they generally keep to themselves anyway.
Owens has been outspoken in recent days about the handling of the virus, calling out “failed leadership” last week as one reason football season remains in doubt.
Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.