At the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, all NCAA sports were brought to a halt. But this week, some student-athletes have been approved to resume campus workouts, should they choose to participate.
The NCAA Council voted Wednesday to lift its moratorium placed on athletic-related activities for football and men’s and women’s basketball. The ban was set to expire on May 31 and following the vote, student-athletes may participate in voluntary workouts – pending decisions from athletic conferences and schools – from June 1 to June 30.
“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” stated University of Pennsylvania Athletic Director and NCAA Council chair M. Grace Calhoun. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”
Should schools allow campuses to open for the eligible student-athletes to conduct workouts, they should be in compliance with necessary state and local regulations, such as practicing proper distancing and limiting the size of groups. Additionally, workouts are to be on a completely voluntary basis from the athletes, meaning coaches may not direct the session or have athletes report the workout back to them.
The Division I Council is expected to issue another vote regarding the activity of other NCAA sports, as well as the access for basketball and football athletes beyond June 30.
College sports, particularly revenue-reliant football programs, are a gamble as schools and local governments determine what the pandemic may look like in the fall. NCAA President Mark Emmert has ruled that the governing body won’t set out a uniform start date for fall sports but rather let individual schools and local authorities decide if and when to start. Prior to that, Emmert had said that he believes the simplest criteria needed to resume athletics is to have all students return to campus for classes in the fall.