SEC to permit voluntary in-person activities starting June 8

Published 12:46 pm Friday, May 22, 2020

The Southeastern Conference will begin its slow return to normal next month.

A vote by all 14 universities’ presidents and chancellors was taken on Friday morning, which will allow voluntary in-person athletic activities to resume on SEC campuses on June 8.

The activities will be under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.

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Due to COVID-19, the SEC suspended all athletics activities through May 31. The approved date of June 8 will begin a transition period that will allow student-athletes to gradually adapt to fully training and sports activity after being away from campus for the past two months.

The decision was made under the guidance of SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, which was created in April.

“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.  “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.”

Keith Carter’s timeline of bringing student-athletes back to Oxford by July 1 is still on track with Friday’s vote by the SEC.

As part of its recommendations, the Task Force prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining cleaned environments. In addition to standard infection prevention measures as approved by public health authorities such as facility cleaning and social distancing, recommended enhanced health and safety measures include:

  • Enhanced education of all team members on health and wellness best practices, including but not limited to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
  • A three-stage screening process that involves screening before student-athletes arrive on campus, within 72 hours of entering athletics facilities and on a daily basis upon resumption of athletics activities.
  • Testing of symptomatic team members (including all student-athletes, coaches, team support and other appropriate individuals).
  • Immediate isolation of team members who are under investigation or diagnosed with COVID-19 followed by contact tracing, following CDC and local public health guidelines.
  • A transition period that allows student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sport activity following a period of inactivity.

During the month of June, NCAA regulations permit only strength and conditioning personnel to supervise voluntary on-campus athletics activities in the sports of football and men’s and women’s basketball. A current waiver that permits eight hours of virtual film review has been extended through June 30 for football and basketball.

A previously announced suspension of in-person camps and coaches clinics conducted by SEC institutions remains in effect until July 31.