SEC presidents vote to allow voluntary on-campus workouts beginning June 8
On Friday SEC presidents and chancellors voted to allow voluntary in-person athletic activities on campus beginning on June 8. These activities must be supervised and comply with safety guidelines created by each institution.
“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,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “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."
It remains to be seen what specific protocols Alabama might put in place. It's possible they will resemble Louisville's multi-phased plan released on Thursday which would allow only 30 football players back on campus when the Cardinals begin the first phase on May 27.
Thirty more football players would follow in phase two on June 10, and the rest would follow suit on July 6. Louisville's other approved sports would follow a similar process.
"Resumption of voluntary in-person activity is an important step in moving us towards the fall athletic season, which we are fully preparing for with a phased approach beginning June 8," Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne said. "In addition to our public health officials, we are fortunate to have an elite sports medicine staff here at Alabama."
Friday's vote came just two days after Yahoo Sports reported that the NCAA Division I Council voted this week to allow voluntary athletic activities from June 1-30 for football, men's basketball and women's basketball players.
During this time strength and conditioning personnel are the only ones allowed to supervise these voluntary activities. However, the current waiver allowing coaches to utilize eight hours of virtual film review has been extended through the end of June for both football and basketball.
The SEC's Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force also proposed several health and safety measures for schools to consider while crafting their own individual safety protocols.
Their suggestions included:
- Improved education of all team members on best health and wellness practices concerning the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.
- A 3-stage screening process beginning before athletes arrive on campus, within 72 hours of entering athletic facilities and concluding with daily checks.
- Testing process in place for all symptomatic staffers and athletes.
- Isolation of anyone suspected of contracting COVID-19 followed by contract tracing to identify others at risk.
- A transition period that allows athletes to ease into full training after a period of inactivity.
“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.”
The SEC's decision aligned with state directives issued on Thursday by Alabama governor Kay Ivey when she announced that athletic teams could resume practice on Friday with competition allowed once again beginning on June 15.
“The health and safety of everyone, including our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans has been, and will continue to be at the forefront as we prepare to return," Byrne said.