NCAA releases campus-return guidelines

A week after the NCAA voted to lift a moratorium on athletic activities and allow for teams to open facilities as early as this coming Monday, the organization on Friday released its guidelines for helping schools allow athletes back on campus during a pandemic.

The guidelines — officially called the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Action Plan Considerations — include social distancing, disinfecting commonly used areas and surfaces, staying home when feeling sick, and self-quarantining before returning to campus, along with other recommendations consistent with public health guidelines.

Numerous schools have been working on plans to allow student-athletes to return to campus facilities, such as testing and taking the temperature of athletes, coaches and staff, social distancing and cleaning and disinfecting facilities.

However, after the release of Friday’s guidelines, several schools announced dates for the planned initial return to campus by student-athletes.

The University of North Carolina released its Athletics Roadmap for Fall 2020. The school announced that coaches and staff for football and men’s and women’s basketball, as well as football players, can return to facilities on June 12 for COVID-19 testing. Physical conditioning at team facilities will be allowed to begin three days later.

The University of Arizona announced that athletes can return to campus for voluntary workouts on June 15, starting with football players. That is earliest possible date Pac-12 members can allow athletes back onto campus for workouts, the conference announced earlier this week.

The Southeastern Conference will permit schools to have voluntary workouts beginning June 8, while Big 12 will allow football programs to hold voluntary workouts beginning June 15. The Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference have each left decisions about workouts up to specific schools.

One of the Big Ten schools will be opening its facilities as early as possible, as the University of Nebraska will begin welcoming athlete back to campus on Monday. According to a release by the school, football, volleyball, soccer, women’s basketball and men’s basketball players will be the first to be allowed back to campus, and teams will begin working out “in a phased approach in the coming weeks.”

“The plan we have developed is done with the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community as our top priority,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said in a statement. “We have strict protocol that will involve quarantines, testing and detailed cleaning and safety measures. The guidelines we have in place will be strictly followed as our student-athletes return to prepare for their upcoming seasons.”

The college football season is schedule to begin in late August, though decisions as to whether that timeline will remain unchanged — and whether fans will be allowed to attend the games — have yet to be finalized.

—Field Level Media