BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (KBTX) - The Southeastern Conference says student-athletes can resume voluntary in-person activities on campus beginning June 8. Individual campuses will have discretion over those activities and be responsible for creating safety guidelines and supervision.
The conference called the upcoming changes part of a “transition period” designed to allow athletes to adapt back to a full training and activity regimen. It stressed the need for controlled, safe environments and continued social distancing.
The Southeastern Conference previously suspended all athletics through the end of May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"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."
A task force created by the SEC’s presidents and chancellors has created best practices for campuses to screen, test, monitor, and trace COVID-19 cases while maintaining cleaning and social distancing.
"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," Sankey said. "Elements of the Task Force recommendations provided key guidance for determining the date of the return to activity."
Those practices include educating team members on best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19, a multi-stage screening before student-athletes arrive on campus and before activities begin, testing and isolation of team members with symptoms of COVID-19. The transition period to full activity scheduled to begin June 8.
NCAA regulations currently allow only strength and conditioning coaches to work with athletes during the voluntary workouts, along with eight hours of virtual film review through June 30. All in-person camps and clinics remain suspended through July 31.