Instagram video sparks controversy over failure to comply with safety protocols


Courtesy of @cnf_media on Instagram

A video package of the RWU baseball team caused controversy on March 24 as players are seen not wearing their masks correctly.

Megan Julian, Sports Editor

A video package of the Roger Williams University baseball team sparked controversy on Instagram this week as players were seen not wearing their masks correctly in many of the shots. Senior Cam Francis posted the video on his Instagram account @cnf_media on March 24. The video clips were shot during the team’s game against Trinity College on Saturday, March 21.


Members of the dance/performance program at RWU, including senior communications major and dance minor Caroline Zambernardi, expressed frustration after seeing the video.


“Myself and others in the dance department just wanted to address the issues of athletes and their lack of proper mask-wearing,” Zambernardi said. 


Users also tagged the RWU Athletics Instagram page in the comments to create awareness around the issue. 


“In no way were we attacking the actual account,” Zambernardi said. “We just wanted to show the athletic department the footage of improper mask-wearing since it is frustrating to see athletes not following the protocol and that we have to wear two masks within the Barn when we are dancing.” 

RWU Athletic Director Kiki Jacobs said baseball team practices were put on hold from Tuesday, March 23 to Friday, March 26 due to COVID-19 and mask-wearing issues. The players will be able to return to the field after they are tested for COVID-19 on March 25.

The baseball team coach and captains did not respond to requests for comment.

In an email to students on March 25, Vice President of Student Life John King said “spring sports are in jeopardy without a full-fledged re-commitment to prevention strategies and behavior changes.” King is meeting with the spring sports captains tonight, primarily because of some positive test results among athletes across teams, which came as a result of socialization. He confirmed the social media controversy also influenced his decision to call the meeting.

The Commonwealth Coast Conference created specific protocols for the 2021 spring season that teams have to be following in order to compete in conference play. 


The teams are following a rigorous testing protocol where student-athletes and coaching staff are required to be tested twice per week, with a negative PCR test result required at least 72 hours before competition. Masks are required for all players, coaching staff and officials at all times during competitions and no spectators are allowed. 


According to Jacobs, the repercussions for not following testing protocol and not wearing masks are clear.

“If they aren’t testing twice per week, they aren’t playing,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said she has spoken to athletes and coaches reminding them to wear masks and that she will be doing that once again.

“Like with the spectator policy, it is hard to police. Moving forward, we will need to start halting games if this continues to happen,” Jacobs said.

The ruling on no spectators has been one of the biggest struggles for athletics. Jacobs said she has received some pushback.

“It hasn’t been well received by some. This was a conference decision. We have worked hard to build a fan base and now to ask people not to come to a game is a challenge. Parents have taken this news very hard,” Jacobs said. 

Spectators can watch the games through the athletics live stream and play-by-play. Jacobs said they have been working to improve the streaming of each game by receiving new cameras and bringing in more people to present commentary during the games.

If fans keep returning to games, competition will stop.

“Our event management staff and Public Safety are doing the best they can to keep people moving,” Jacobs said. “We are asking for everyone’s help with this. If we continue to have spectators showing up at games, we will have to halt the game.”