BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIS) - On Friday, the Southeastern Conference announced teams will be allowed to resume voluntary in-person workouts beginning June 8.
The decision, according to conference officials, was made with the guidance of the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, which included public health professionals from the 14 SEC schools.
"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."
Shortly after the decision was announced, University of South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner issued a statement saying the university “will be ready to host football student-athletes on campus for voluntary workouts on June 8."
"I am pleased that we will bring our student-athletes back to campus on June 8 for conditioning and I have confidence in our Department of Athletics to follow public health protocols to mitigate risk to our athletes, coaches and training staff," said UofSC President Bob Caslen. "This is another step toward the phased reopening of our campus and another sign that we are ready to get back to the business of educating our next generation of leaders."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all athletic activities in the SEC were suspended in March through May 31.
Recommendations have been distributed to each school regarding best practices, screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing, and maintaining clean environments. Plus, the following health and safety measures have been recommended for each school:
- 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
Voluntary strength and conditioning workouts have been approved for football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball.
Student-athletes are also allowed to participate in eight hours of virtual film study through June 30.