SEC to allow voluntary in-person athletic activities for all sports

SEC to allow voluntary in-person athletic activities for all sports
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. (Source: Christina Chambers/WBRC)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced Friday, May 22 that voluntary in-person athletic activities may resume on SEC campuses beginning on June 8, at the discretion of each university.

LSU football announced Friday that it will resume voluntary activities on June 8 in accordance with the new guidelines provided.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is our top priority,” said Scott Woodward, Director of Athletics. “We believe our student-athletes can and will receive the best possible care under the daily and strict supervision of our medical personnel and athletic trainers and in a facility designed to accommodate the unique needs of elite-level athletes.”

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

“I want to thank Scott Woodward and Greg Sankey for putting us in a position to get our team back on campus,” said Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron. “Our administration has worked very hard to make sure that all of the necessary safety procedures and protocols are in place to keep our team safe and healthy. This is a great first step to take in order for us to get back to playing the great game of college football in the fall.”

Under plans developed by each university and consistent with state and local health directives, certain activities will be permitted based on the ability to participate in controlled and safe environments, while also maintaining recommended social distancing measures.

“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.

The SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, created by the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors in April, prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining cleaned environments.

  • Enhanced education of all team members on health and wellness best practices, including but not limited to preventing the spread of COVID-19
  • A 3-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

The NCAA is allowing Division I student-athletes in all sports to participate in voluntary athletics activities beginning June 1. Per NCAA regulations, only strength and conditioning personnel will be permitted to supervise voluntary on-campus athletic activities. Initially, the activities were only being allowed for football and basketball.

“The return of voluntary activity in addition to the extension of the waiver to allow virtual, nonphysical activity shows sensitivity to local, state and regional differences in how Division I campuses are reopening,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We will continue to be considerate of these differences with wise and flexible administration of our regulations, and we expect schools to keep the well-being of student-athletes as a priority.”

A current waiver that permits eight hours of virtual film review has been extended through June 30 for all sports.

Suspension of in-person camps and coaches clinics conducted by SEC institutions remains in effect until July 31.

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