UF reveals plan for student-athletes to resume athletic activities

Ed Orgeron

SEC athletics facilities can reopen starting June 8 for voluntary, in-person workouts, conference officials said.

The decision comes after the NCAA Division I council approved a similar measure Wednesday, though its set return date was June 1.

"At this time, we are preparing to begin the fall sports season as now scheduled, and this limited resumption of voluntary athletic activities on June 8 is an important initial step in that process", SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.

The conference called the upcoming changes part of a "transition period" created to allow athletes to adapt back to a full training and activity regimen.

The league announced that, effective June 8, student-athletes may begin returning to campus for voluntary workouts supervised by strength and conditioning personnel.

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The current waiver allowing teams to require eight hours of virtual non-physical activities in all sports also has been extended. "This is an important first step toward having a season this fall and we will continue to collectively work together as our top priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff". 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. One SEC coach told us that his school is interpreting swimming as a conditioning activity, but that in an early reaction to the rules, the school is planning to bring fall sports back to campus first (football, volleyball, soccer) to monitor the impact and shore-up safety protocols before opening up campus to winter or spring sport athletes.

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. "Our staff and student-athletes should be prepared for a 'new normal, ' as we'll be implementing changes to how everyone accesses and uses our facilities".

The league presidents and chancellors appointed a "Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force", in April.

"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", Sankey said in Friday's release.

Shortly after the SEC voted on a crucial step toward the resumption of competition on Friday, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn chimed in on the decision that could help college athletics get back on track following a prolonged shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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