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The SEC said Friday it would permit campus facilities to reopen for limited voluntary workouts next month, marking a key step toward college football’s potential return from the coronavirus pandemic this fall.
SEC athletics facilities can reopen starting June 8 for voluntary, in-person workouts, conference officials said. University presidents and other top officials from SEC’s 14 member schools reached the decision after consultations with conference leaders and public health experts.
"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.”
SEC programs include several college football powerhouses, including the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University. The conference has suspended all athletics-related activities through May 31.
Facilities will reopen with a number of enhanced safety protocols in place, including educational sessions on best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19, a thorough health screening process for athletes and testing of those who display symptoms.
The decision came days after the NCAA Division I Council ruled football and basketball programs could resume voluntary workouts June 1.
At present, NCAA rules prevent schools from holding organized workouts and other required activities. The SEC has banned coaches’ clinics and training camps through July 31.
The NCAA took the unprecedented step of canceling its March Madness basketball tournaments due to the pandemic. The decision resulted in significant cuts to the NCAA’s revenue distributions to its conferences.
Several pro leagues, including the NBA and MLB, are moving toward a resumption of workouts.