SEC allows student athletes to return to campus

ATLANTA — The Southeastern Conference took a step toward resuming college sports with a critical vote that will reopen training facilities.

Schools will be able to bring football and basketball players back to campus for voluntary activities starting June 8 at the discretion of each university.

The SEC’s announcement Friday is the latest sign that a college football season will be launched in some form this fall. The move comes two days after the NCAA Division I Council voted to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts on campus by football and basketball players, effective June 1.

University of Georgia Athletics Director Greg McGarity told Channel 2′s Alison Mastrangelo the focus is on the well being of students.

“The NCAA decision provided a brighter light at the end of the tunnel. I know our young people are anxious to get started, our coaches are anxious to get started. So we want to move forward but we want to move forward a right way and a safe way to be sure that the parents of our student athletes know that they’ll be in great care when they’re on our campus,” McGarity said.

Other conferences are expected to follow suit, though decisions could be left to individual schools.

SEC officials noted any workouts would take place "under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution." They referred to June 8 as the start of "transition period that will allow student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after this recent period of inactivity."

The SEC decided to resume athletic activities with the guidance of a league task force that includes public health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from each of the league’s 14 member schools.

The task force prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining clean environments to serve as a guide for each school.

Recommendations included testing of symptomatic team members (including athletes, coaches and staffers) as well as screening athletes before they arrive on campus within 72 hours of entering athletic facilities and on a daily basis once they resume athletic activities.

Other recommendations include immediate isolation of team members who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are under investigation, followed by contact tracing under Centers for Disease Control and local public health guidelines.