On Wednesday, the NCAA voted and approved the return of voluntary athletic activities for football and men and women's basketball starting on June 1.
While the NCAA approved the return, the decision to return needed to be made in agreement with state government, local government, conference and university officials.
On Friday, the SEC has voted and approved the return of voluntary athletic activities starting on June 8. The decision to return will be made at the discretion of each university; Auburn is going to allow athletes in football and men's and women's basketball to return on June 8.
While the SEC has suspended all athletic activities until May 31, June 8 serves as the first day where athletes in football and men's and women's basketball can return to campus and participate in voluntary athletic activities.
During June, these activities are run by the strength and conditioning personnel, but on-field coaches can still meet virtually with their players for up to 8 hours a week through June 30.
Auburn athletic director, Allen Greene, released the following statement after the SEC's decision to permit voluntary athletic activities.
“As always, the health and well-being of our student-athletes and the Auburn family remains our highest priority," Greene said. "We support the SEC presidents and chancellors’ decision to reopen our facilities for voluntary in-person athletics activities."
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Greene understands that the end goal is to conduct fall activities as previously scheduled, and has a plan in place to safely manage the return of athletes.
"Through extensive collaboration, campus colleagues have developed plans to safely manage the return of our student-athletes, Greene said. "To build on this momentum, it is imperative that we proceed with a great deal of discipline and flexibility, with the end goal of conducting fall activities as previously scheduled.”
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is looking forward to having his team back on campus, putting out the following message on social media.
In his statement, SEC Commisoner Greg Sankey is still planning on having fall sports at their regularly scheduled time.
"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", Sankey said.
The SEC also released the following health and safety guidelines that teams are recommended to follow when they return along with the standard infection prevention measures as outlined by public health officials.
- 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
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