NCAA clears way for college teams to return to practice
The NCAA cleared the way for Division I football and basketball players to return to campus sooner than some expected with a vote to allow on-campus voluntary practices to start on June 1.
The Division I Council decided in a virtual meeting Wednesday that as long as all local, state and federal regulations are followed, teams can start working with their players.
The next hurdle to clear is having member schools and conferences agree to a date. SEC athletic directors are expected to vote on Thursday with member school presidents having the final say on Friday as to when they will welcome their athletes back.
The SEC has looked at a possible return as soon as June 1 and also has a second option for June 15, should the university presidents vote to proceed.
The voluntary on-campus workouts must be started by the athletes, not the coaches, and coaches cannot be present for the workouts.
In a virtual coaches caravan last week, LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward said that LSU has been at the forefront of bringing safety measures to the campus in hopes that this announcement would come.
Woodward and other coaches have often touted the idea of having all of their student-athletes on campus where they can house, feed, and monitor their health.
“We have top concern for our student-athletes,” Woodward said. “We're making sure that is paramount, that we do these things we can control because that's one thing in our hands that we can help and we can do better.”
For those students who don't feel safe returning to campus to work out, the NCAA Council members extended a waiver allowing teams to require eight hours per week of virtual nonphysical activities through the end of June.
LSU has already been working virtually to install their football schemes as well as monitor workout sessions remotely from their athletes.
The NCAA's release notes that the status of voluntary athletics activities in all other sports, and summer access activities in football and men’s and women’s basketball, will be determined via electronic vote. A date has not been set for determination.
“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,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”
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