The NCAA Council will vote Wednesday whether to allow on-campus, voluntary workouts for college football.
Technically, the vote before the council will be whether to extend an NCAA moratorium on athletic activities for all sports that is set to expire on May 31. But with conferences and schools now modeling their own return-to-play plans on or around June 1, the momentum seems to be that at least voluntary football workouts are going to resume soon.
"Some of this stuff is starting to sound encouraging as long as we don't have monstrous flare ups [of the coronavirus]," NCAA Council vice-chair Jon Steinbrecher said.
The NCAA canceled all its winter and spring championships March 12, the day it canceled the NCAA Tournament. Sports Illustrated last week was the first to report the council could lift the moratorium.
The 40-person council's voting is weighted by conference. It would take a simple majority to lift the moratorium.
In mid-April, coaches were allowed "more virtual connection" to athletes. The enhanced interaction that included film review, chalk talks and team meetings began April 20 and ends May 31.
After receiving feedback from membership, the council will decide whether to extend the moratorium, allow voluntary workouts or allow "required" training overseen by strength and conditioning coaches.
Whatever the outcome, it seems college football is ready to proceed amid an existing pandemic. That means not waiting for a vaccine and instead relying on enhanced prevention and testing.
"We need to learn to dance with the pandemic rather than being fearful of it," West Virginia president Gordon Gee said. "We have moved from 'The Hammer,' which I call where we just locked everything down, to what I call 'The Dance.'"
It was reported last week that SEC presidents would vote Friday whether to open their schools to athletic activities on June 1. The MAC presidents will hold a similar vote on Friday. The Big 12 presidents met on Monday, but no decision was reached
Gee told CBS Sports that he expects large, public universities to open "around the first part of July."
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley made news last week when he said, "All this talk of schools wanting to bring players back on June 1st is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard."
Steinbrecher concluded: "What you're going to do is whatever your local board of health tells you."
Among the encouraging signs: Several schools have announced plans to welcome students back on campus for the fall. Notre Dame and South Carolina have moved up the start of the fall semester in hopes of mitigating the arrival of a second surge of the coronavirus.
Also, the NCAA has distributed to members reports of potential "pooling samples" for the coronavirus. According to a German study, sampling 30 persons in a group can help isolate a positive test.
That means those 30 individuals would be tested for COVID-19, instead of the entire football team, if there's a positive.
The council could also vote Wednesday to tweak one-time transfer legislation to include the five "revenue" sports -- baseball, hockey, football and men's and women's basketball. More likely is that the council will not act on the issue this week and allow formal legislation to be developed in the next year. The NCAA Board of Governors hasof that formal legislative process.