NCAA says football, basketball players can begin on-campus workouts

The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts by football and basketball players effective June 1 as a growing number of college leaders expressed confidence that fall sports will be possible in some form despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

This decision clears the way for individual workouts by athletes, mostly on their own, subject to safety and health protocols decided by their schools or local health officials..

NCAA officials noted that the workouts could go on as long as all local, state and federal regulations are followed. The status of voluntary workouts for other sports will be determined later.

“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” Penn athletic director and council chair M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”

From Notre Dame to LSU and more, a number of schools have announced plans to reopen campuses for the fall semester and conferences have begun setting up plans for how to play football amid the pandemic. The latest came this week with the Florida State system announcing plans for its 12 schools and more than 420,000 students.

Many questions remain, including specific safety protocols and whether fans would be allowed if games proceed.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in conference call Wednesday that he believes the Buckeyes could safely play home games with 20,000 to 30,000 fans in its 105,000-seat stadium.

“I think we can get there,” Smith said.

Smith said he hadn’t figured out yet how those 20,000 to 30,000 spectators would be chosen. He said masks and other precautions would be required to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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