NCAA: Voluntary campus workouts OK in June

  • ACC reporter.
  • Joined in 2010.
  • Graduate of the University of Florida.

The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to allow voluntary on-campus athletic activities to resume in football and men’s and women’s basketball, starting June 1.

After the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of sports across the country, the council banned all on-campus athletic activities. That moratorium was set to expire May 31. On Wednesday, the NCAA revealed the decision, and its ensuing conditions, after a virtual meeting, while also saying the status of additional sports will be determined at another time, via electronic vote.

“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate re-socialization framework,” council chair M. Grace Calhoun, the athletic director at Penn, said. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”

Already, athletic directors are making plans to have athletes return to campus. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said on a teleconference Wednesday that the school would allow voluntary workouts to resume on June 8, pending university approval.

Later Wednesday, Wyoming announced it will allow football and basketball players back on campus starting June 1, with proper conditions in place. Wyoming is allowing only a limited number to return, and those returning must complete a 14-day quarantine and take a coronavirus test before being allowed into any facility. They school will also provide masks and have frequent sanitizing procedures.

SEC athletic directors are expected to meet with health experts on Thursday and then give a recommendation to university presidents and chancellors about whether they should begin a phased reopening or extend the moratorium on in-person, on-campus workouts. The presidents and chancellors are expected to make a decision when they meet Friday, multiple sources told ESPN. Other conferences, including the Big Ten and Big 12 are lining up similar calls.

One source added that the 40-member council ran out of time on its call and would explore allowing the same for other sports within the next week.

When student-athletes do return, they will find a new normal. Athletics officials are expected to lay out protocols to try and maintain a safe return, including small workout groups, maintaining social distancing, constant wiping down of equipment and the use of masks inside facility buildings. Many schools are making plans for a deep clean of their facilities before athletes return.

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