The return of sports just took another big step today, as the SEC has announced that league schools can now open their campuses for voluntary athletic activities beginning June 8th.
Due to of COVID-19 outbreak, the SEC had previously suspended all athletics activities through May 31st. Now on June 8th, the league will begin a transition period that will allow student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after this recent period of inactivity.
Under plans developed by each university and consistent with state and local health directives, certain activities will be permitted based on the ability to participate in controlled and safe environments, while also maintaining recommended social distancing measures.
These activities will be limited by the NCAA to voluntary workouts supervised by strength and conditioning personnel.
“The safe and healthy return of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and our greater university communities have been and will continue to serve as our guiding principle as we navigate this complex and constantly-evolving situation,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “At this time, we are preparing to begin the fall sports season as currently scheduled, and this limited resumption of voluntary athletic activities on June 8 is an important initial step in that process. Thanks to the blueprint established by our Task Force and the dedicated efforts of our universities and their athletics programs, we will be able to provide our student-athletes with far better health and wellness education, medical and psychological care and supervision than they would otherwise receive on their own while off campus or training at public facilities as states continue to reopen.”
“While each institution will make its own decisions in creating defined plans to safely return student-athletes to activity, it is essential to employ a collaborative approach that involves input from public health officials, coaches, sports medicine staff, sports performance personnel and student-athletes. Elements of the Task Force recommendations provided key guidance for determining the date of the return to activity.”
In addition to standard infection prevention measures as approved by public health authorities such as facility cleaning and social distancing, recommended enhanced health and safety measures include:
- Enhanced education of all team members on health and wellness best practices, including but not limited to preventing the spread of COVID-19
- A 3-stage screening process that involves screening before student-athletes arrive on campus, within 72 hours of entering athletics facilities and on a daily basis upon resumption of athletics activities
- Testing of symptomatic team members (including all student-athletes, coaches, team support and other appropriate individuals)
- Immediate isolation of team members who are under investigation or diagnosed with COVID-19 followed by contact tracing, following CDC and local public health guidelines
- A transition period that allows student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sport activity following a period of inactivity
During the month of June, NCAA regulations permit only strength and conditioning personnel to supervise voluntary on-campus athletics activities in the sports of football and men’s & women’s basketball. A current waiver that permits eight (8) hours of virtual film review has been extended through June 30 for football and basketball.
Consistent with NCAA regulations, organized practices and other required physical activities remain prohibited in all sports. A previously announced suspension of in-person camps and coaches clinics conducted by SEC institutions remains in effect until July 31st.