The SEC announced Friday that athletes will be allowed on campus for voluntary workouts beginning on June 8. Campuses have been off-limits dating back to mid-March, when the sports world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The conference established the Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force in April, which established multiple guidelines consistent with state and local health recommendations.
"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 in a release. "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."
The conference has instituted multiple preventative measures in addition to the currently-implemented local and state directives. Those measures are:
- Education on health and wellness practices related to COVID-19 and other threats.
- A screening process for student-athletes prior to arriving on campus within 72 hours of entering facilities and on a daily basis once normal activities resume.
- Testing of all individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19 and isolation of those infected or suspected of being infected.
- A transition period for athletes to return to normal athletic activities.
"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."
In addition to the imminent reopening of facilities, the SEC also announced the waiver allowing eight hours of virtual film review has been extended through June 30 for football and basketball.
The SEC's decision is the latest step toward the return of college football for the 2020 season. The NCAA announced earlier this week that , and several programs have since set dates for their return including Ohio State, which is scheduled to open on June 8.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a complete shutdown of major sports in the United States. All SEC spring games, the majority of spring practices and voluntary summer workouts were canceled as a result of the outbreak.