As college campus shutdowns continue across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic, conferences are adjusting previous guidelines to allow more virtual contact between coaches and players. On Friday, the SEC lifted a previous guideline preventing virtual interaction between coaches and players. The conference sent a memo to each of its 14 athletic departments allowing virtual meetings using remote tools like FaceTime and Zoom.
The Big 12 and Pac-12 then followed suit, releasing their own set of updated guidelines on Sunday and Monday, respectively. For the Pac-12 specifically, organized team activities are now suspended through May 31 (the previous deadline was March 29).
The new conference-wide guideline for the SEC will go into effect beginning Monday and each program will be limited to two hours of virtual instruction per week. The idea is to allow schools to have something resembling spring practice meetings. 247Sports first reported the news Friday afternoon and included the new guideline, which can be read below:
Required virtual film review, chalk talk, etc. that does not include physical activity shall be permissible. Any required activity of this nature shall be limited to two (2) hours of activity per week in all sports, shall be scheduled in accordance with the institution's established Time Management Policy, and shall not interfere with required class time for online instruction. These activities may not include a review by or live monitoring of film/video of a student-athlete engaging in workouts or physical activity occurring after March 13, 2020. Institutions may not suggest or require a student-athlete to make film/video of his/her workouts or physical activity available by other means (such as social media).
The SEC disallowed football programs from offering virtual instruction two weeks ago, such as position meetings and film review, as to not give any competitive advantages. However, that was during the early stages of sweeping shutdowns due to the spread of COVID-19. Campuses across the SEC have since closed for the remainder of the school calendar, just as spring practices across the conference have been postponed. However, schools continue to have online-only instruction. The SEC did allow its athletic programs to share strength-and-conditioning workouts digitally with its players during the first two weeks of the pandemic, but virtual observation of the workouts is still not allowed.
The Big 12 released a similar statement on Sunday by allowing all "virtual" group activities, including film study. The Pac-12 also added it will allow up to two hours of virtual group activities per week per football and up to four hours of virtual group activities per week for all other sports. However, the conferences still aren't allowing organized, in-person team activities of any type during the suspension.
It remains to be seen whether college football due to ongoing coronavirus fears. However, this memorandum by the SEC is a clear pivot to the new lifestyles, where many items are being done remotely. Other conferences are still free to set guidelines as they see fit, which begs the question whether the NCAA will adopt a more uniform policy for the foreseeable future.