The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to allow voluntary on-campus athletic activities to resume in football and men's and women's basketball starting June 1.
After the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of sports across the country, the council banned all on-campus athletic activities. That moratorium was set to expire May 31. On Wednesday, the NCAA revealed its decision and the ensuing conditions after a virtual meeting. The NCAA said the status of other sports will be determined via electronic vote at another time.
"We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate re-socialization framework," said council chair M. Grace Calhoun, the athletic director at Penn. "Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts."
Athletic directors already are making plans to have athletes return to campus. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday on a teleconference that the school will allow voluntary workouts to resume on June 8, pending university approval.
Later Wednesday, Wyoming announced that it will allow football and basketball players to return to campus starting June 1, with proper conditions in place. Wyoming is allowing a limited number to return, and those returning must complete a 14-day quarantine and take a coronavirus test before they will be allowed into any facility. The school also will provide masks and have sanitizing procedures.
SEC athletic directors are expected to meet with health experts Thursday and then offer a recommendation to university presidents and chancellors about whether to begin a phased reopening or extend the moratorium on in-person, on-campus workouts. The presidents and chancellors are expected to make a decision when they meet Friday, multiple sources told ESPN. Other conferences, including the Big Ten and Big 12, are lining up similar calls.
One source said the 40-member council ran out of time on its call and will explore allowing similar measures for other sports in the next week.
When student-athletes do return, they will find a new normal. Athletic officials are expected to lay out protocols to try to maintain safety, including small workout groups, practicing social distancing, constant wiping down of equipment and the use of masks inside buildings. Many schools are making plans for a deep clean of their facilities before athletes return.