Gerry Dulac: It’s fair to wonder about Steelers’ camp this year in Latrobe

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Could the Steelers’ 54-year run of holding training camp at Saint Vincent College be coming to an end?

Could the decision of colleges and universities to already start canceling summer classes on campus force the Steelers to hold training camp at their South Side facility — if there even is a summer training camp?

It is too early to know that answer, and nobody with the Steelers has discussed the possibility. But, considering the ever-changing restrictions put in place and the somber projections of a rising death toll because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not unreasonable to think the Steelers will have to break from their long-standing tradition of holding training camp in Latrobe.

No NFL team has had a longer relationship with a college campus for training camp than the Steelers and Saint Vincent College. The Green Bay Packers have been staying at Saint Norbert College for 62 years during training camp, but the school is right across the street from the team’s training facility and the Packers still use their own fields for practice.

Some schools, including Carnegie Mellon and Kent State, have already canceled summer classes on campus and extended remote instruction through the end of July. Saint Vincent College has not made that decision yet, but it is likely that will become the norm in many instances as national restrictions continue to be extended.

Dormitories and on-campus housing are considered the biggest concerns for spreading the virus. Even though it is more than three months away, the possibility of the Steelers and Saint Vincent College wanting nearly several hundred players, coaches, scouts, team personnel and media living and staying on campus — considering the existing social distancing guidelines — seems remote at best.

That is assuming the NFL won’t delay the opening of training camps, as well.

The league has already indefinitely delayed the start of offseason programs that were scheduled to start this month for all teams. Teams with new head coaches were scheduled to begin their offseason training activities (OTAs) April 6. The Steelers and all other teams would have begun April 20. That has all been put on hold.

The Steelers have closed their South Side and Heinz Field offices to coaches, team personnel and staff. The exception is for players who need medically supervised rehab, which is being allowed by the league.

“Nobody knows what our calendar is right now,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Tuesday. “No changes have been made. That’s something that continues to be monitored. What we have to do as an organization is be prepared for whatever. Nobody knows what the next step is. Nobody has any idea at this point.”


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