Schools in the Southeast Conference will be able to bring athletes from all sports back to campus for volunteer activities starting June 8 at the discretion of each university, and Big 12 plans to host footballers on campus for one week later.
Friday’s announcements are the latest signs that a college football season will kick off in one form or another this fall. Other conferences should follow, although decisions may be left to each school.
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The move comes two days after the NCAA Division I Council voted to lift a moratorium on campus voluntary training by football and basketball players, effective June 1. The NCAA updated this decision on Friday by saying that voluntary activities would be allowed in all sports starting June 1. .
“Right now, we are preparing to start the fall sports season as planned, and this limited resumption of voluntary sports activities on June 8 is an important first step in this process,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. .
The SEC originally announced on Friday that in-person volunteer activities could resume on June 8 on SEC campuses only for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. But after the NCAA released its decision updated Friday afternoon, the SEC announced that the June 8 date would apply to athletes in all sports.
The 12 grand presidents and chancellors met on Friday and decided that voluntary activities could start on June 15 for football, July 1 for other fall sports and July 15 for all other sports.
SEC officials noted that all training sessions would take place “under the strict supervision of designated university staff and safety guidelines developed by each institution” They called June 8 a “transitional period that will allow students – athletes gradually adapt to full training and sporting activities after this recent period of inactivity ”.
Authorized actions are limited by the NCAA to voluntary activities supervised by strength and conditioning personnel. Georgia sports director Greg McGarity said it was “only the first step with more details and plans to come in the coming days and weeks.”
“This is an important first step towards a season this fall, and we will continue to work together because our top priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff”, l ‘Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement.
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Reigning national champion LSU has declared that he will resume voluntary player training on June 8 in accordance with an SEC ruling.
“Our administration has worked very hard to ensure that all necessary safety procedures and protocols are in place to ensure the safety and health of our team,” said Tigers coach Ed Orgeron. “This is an important first step to take so that we can start playing great college football again in the fall.”
The SEC has decided to resume sporting activities under the leadership of a league task force that includes professionals in public health, infectious disease and sports medicine from each of the 14 member schools in the league.
The task force has prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining clean environments to guide each school.
Recommendations included testing symptomatic team members (including athletes, coaches, and staff) as well as screening athletes before they arrived on campus within 72 hours of entering sports facilities and daily after resumption of sports activities.
Other recommendations include the immediate isolation of team members who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are under investigation, followed by contact tracing through the Centers for Disease Control and local health guidelines public.
“Health and safety has been our top priority during this planning process, and we will continue to follow the advice of medical experts and health officials in the coming weeks,” said Tennessee sport director , Phillip Fulmer. “Our staff and student-athletes must be prepared for a” new normal “because we will be implementing changes in the way everyone accesses and uses our facilities.”
SEC officials said task force recommendations may provide guide to league members, Sankey noted that each school should make its own decisions about plans to ensure student-athletes return safely security.
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For example, even though the task force recommendations only mentioned testing of symptomatic team members, Georgia assistant sport director Ron Courson said in a statement that the Bulldogs “will conduct COVID tests and will perform medical assessments on all student-athletes. ” Florida has announced that it will also test all of its athletes.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Friday that he thought college football would return on schedule with at least a few spectators. Abbott has already published new rules to allow youth sports leagues to resume in June and for some professional leagues to organize events without spectators.
“Once we get to college football, our goal is to start college football as planned with fans in the stands,” said Abbott in an interview with Austin KXAN television. “What we don’t know is what the level of capacity would be.”