The NCAA forced the shutdown of all sports in March due to the coronavirus. This ban is set to expire on May 31.
Local governments and the leaders of each university will also have to approve when these athletes can come back to campus. But when they do, it has been cleared with the NCAA.
Much is going to be left up to each school and the local governments, such as COVID-19 testing. Each test costs $100, and the frequency athletes will need to take them in still unknown. That will be a decision that the schools will have to make once these athletes return to campus.
“No one wants to get into that,” said a source from the NCAA. “They want to leave it to your own campus and state.”
In most cases, all athletes won’t be able to go back to campus at the same time. One university athletic director said that there will be several groups of 25 to 30 students, all doing workouts in a socially distanced weight room.
Gene Smith, the athletic director of Ohio State, has said that there will be no more than 10 people in a weight room at a time. OSU has set its return date for June 8.
Advice From Experts
Leaders of the NCAA and universities will be given advice from many health experts on how to move forward. The SEC athletic directors plan to do just that on a call this week. Other conferences are starting to plan similar meetings.
The return to campus will be far from normal. There will be several safety protocols that these student-athletes will have to follow to ensure their safety. Social distancing will need to be practiced once they are back on campus.
Schools may make masks essential during certain times, while also deep cleaning the facilities prior to their return. It is likely that football and basketball teams will have to work out in smaller groups throughout June. Entire teams might not be together until later in July.
One of the biggest questions that remain is what to do with positive coronavirus tests. If they are frequently testing these athletes for antibodies, there will likely be a fair share of positive tests.
The NCAA nor the universities have said what they plan to do once this happens. How long must the athlete quarantine? Can they do it on campus? And how many positive tests until other action needs to be taken?
This is still a step forward for the sports world. The biggest focus for the NCAA is the upcoming football season, whether that can happen with fans or not. This meeting and approval move these schools closer to being able to compete in 2020.
Hopefully, the re-opening goes well, and college sports are that much closer.