The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to allow schools to begin voluntary athletics activities in two sports starting June 1 after several months of silence on campuses caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.
The approval allows workouts for football and basketball athletes, and is requisite upon schools being able to meet local health regulations.
The status of voluntary workouts for other sports will be determined soon, a news release from the NCAA said.
Such a move allows athletes access to weightlifting facilities, fields and courts for individual and small-group workouts led by the athletes. For many athletes in those sports, it will be the first time they’ve put up shots in a gym or touched a piece of weightlifting equipment in more than two months.
For Weber State football and basketball athletes, requirements and recommendations currently in place from both the state of Utah and the university itself must be met before they are allowed in facilities.
The state of Utah moved from an orange/moderate risk designation to yellow/low risk designation on May 16. That move allows for gatherings of up to 50 people, asks people to maintain 6 feet of physical separation and wear masks or face coverings when that separation is not possible.
Weber State University announced it would remain in orange/moderate risk operations through at least May 31. According to “recovery framework” instituted by the university, campus buildings remain closed during the orange/moderate risk phase.
“Assuming the state and local counties do not see a spike in COVID-19 cases, we anticipate moving operations to the Yellow-Low Risk Phase June 1,” a university statement said.
Weber State athletic director Tim Crompton said June 1 “would be a time we could potentially start” if the campus moves to yellow/low risk and allows for the opening of workout facilities.
Crompton said “we do things every day to be prepared and stay ready” to have the proper precautions and systems in place to re-open for workouts and meet health and safety requirements.
Under existing rules, coaches have been using video chats to meet with players, and strength and conditioning coaches have provided individual workouts to athletes based on what kinds of equipment is available to them in quarantine.
“Coaches are always in a prepared mode, staying ready and the whole while being cognizant of the fact that they want to keep their athletes safe, they want to be safe, they want to keep the institution and community safe,” Crompton said.
While conferences like the Pac-12 have chosen an all-or-nothing approach in resuming sports activities, the Big Sky Conference presidents’ council has already voted to allow schools to move forward independently as soon as they are able. That means WSU athletics only needs the green light from the university and to meet state requirements; WSU will not need to wait on other Big Sky schools also being able to start workouts.
When athletes return to campuses for voluntary workouts, the NCAA requires such activities must be initiated by athletes. Coaches may not be present unless a “sport-specific safety exception” allows it, and any activities cannot be directed by or reported back to coaches.