An NCAA vote Wednesday cleared the return of student-athletes to campus in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball on June 1 through June 30, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports. This decision ends a moratorium on all athletic activities through May 31.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a rush back to campus for those three sports, as those decisions will be made in concert with state government, local government, conference and university officials.
But the NCAA Division I Council’s vote on Wednesday afternoon marks a significant step – both symbolically and in process – for the possibility of college football and other sports returning in the fall.
Sources told Yahoo Sports that the Division I Council is expected to address sports other than football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball as soon as possible. That could take place within the next week.
The way one source described the process of returning is that it will be more of a step than a leap. The ability for schools to have student-athletes return will depend largely on their state and local government restrictions.
The availability and frequency of testing will be a big issue. There will be no NCAA mandate on required frequency of testing. It will be up to the schools and political decision-makers to develop protocols on the tests, which cost approximately $100 each. “No one wants to get into that,” said a source. “They want to leave it to your own campus and state.”
Athletes who’ve remained in their college towns will likely be the first ones to integrate in. Hypothetically, one athletic director said that means starting with 25 or 30 players in four separate groups amid a socially distanced weight room upon opening. From there, players will be added to the groups as they return to campus. In theory, as one source laid out, a full squad could be around and working out in groups in July.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told reporters on a video call on Wednesday that there would be no more than 10 players in the weight room at one time to start. It will begin with local players before expanding, as he set a potential return date of June 8.
The college football season is scheduled to begin with Week 0 on Aug. 29. When it actually starts and whether there will be fans in the stands remain looming questions.
But the NCAA Division I Council vote on Wednesday is the first step on a pathway back for college athletics.
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