“Everything was up in the air,” Siemieniec said.
The three other players besides Bazakas entered the transfer portal to seek scholarship offers elsewhere. Two transferred, and one, tight end Collin Moore, had his scholarship renewed.
Bazakas, though, was already deep into a master’s program for information and data science, so leaving did not make sense.
But by June, as teams planned for summer workouts, Bazakas began to question whether returning to campus was a good idea.
Bazakas, who stands 6-foot-6, weighed 330 pounds at the time, putting him in a high-risk category if he contracted the virus. His parents are in their 50s, so they could be vulnerable, too. He worried about catching the virus while working out with his teammates, then bringing it home or to people in his neighborhood.
“The thought of going back scared me a lot,” said Bazakas, who had repeated conversations with his teammates, his girlfriend and his family over several months.
Finally, on June 16, the day before Cal announced players could return to campus to prepare for voluntary workouts, Bazakas called Wilcox.
“He was pretty understanding,” Bazakas said. “He said the world is crazy and everyone has to make a choice. He asked, ‘Is there a chance I can talk you out of this or have you made up your mind?’ I told him I had made up my mind. He said, ‘OK, I respect that.’ It wasn’t a long conversation.”