Early Wednesday the NCAA Division I Council meeting voted on an agenda for returning student-athletes to campus. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports broke the news to twitter that the vote passed:
Sources: The NCAA Division I Council voted to approve voluntary athletic activities in football, MBB and WBB to start June 1st and go through June 30th. There had been a moratorium on that through May 31st. Other sports will be acted on on a later date.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) May 20, 2020
So far all we know is that it’s a completely voluntary for three sports: Football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball. Since the current moratorium on athletic activities goes through the 31 of this month, the return starts on the first of June. Obviously this doesn’t mean that everybody is coming back at once to resume life as normal. What it does mean is that according to state and local government, conference officials, and university policies we could see sports return in the fall. For all of us that fall under the purview of Governor Greg Abbot, he’s already made it clear that we want sports back as soon as safely possible.
This June 1 - 30th time frame is more of a trial period where schools can feel out what regulating COVID procedures within an athletic space will look like. Some athletic directors feel like they can start with 25 or 40 players in separate groups cycling through weight rooms, practice areas, and meeting rooms where Ohio State AD Gene Smith said that they’ll be starting at the maximum with 10 players in a place at a time. Don’t forget: this is all completely voluntary. Neither athletic departments nor students have to follow these procedures if they feel it’s an unsafe environment.
One uncertainty that looms over the situation is the availability and frequency of testing for schools that start bringing back student-athletes. The NCAA has not elected to issue a mandate for testing, which in turn leaves it up to university officials and local/state politicians to create protocols for the athletic programs to follow. Outside of that mess, however, the NCAA Council’s decision marks a huge step for college sports to return. The college football season is slotted to start week zero on August 29.