Mississippi State and Ole Miss will both be ready to begin welcoming athletes in all sports to campus on June 8.
On Friday, SEC presidents voted to permit “voluntary in-person athletics activities” to resume on that date. A little later in the day, the NCAA announced that athletes in all sports – not just football and basketball – could begin voluntary campus activities on June 1.
Those decisions will be big steps in the direction of a fall sports season, including football, that could begin on time if the coronavirus pandemic continues to abate.
Athletics directors at Ole Miss and MSU both released statements on Friday afternoon reacting in a positive fashion to the latest developments.
“We are excited about today’s announcement by the SEC and look forward to safely welcoming the first wave of student-athletes back to campus beginning June 8,” Ole Miss vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics Keith Carter wrote.
In his statement, Mississippi State AD John Cohen called Friday’s decisions by the SEC and NCAA “important steps in the direction of beginning the process toward welcoming our student-athletes back to campus and preparing to begin the fall sports season as currently scheduled.”
As the pandemic spread in March, the SEC suspended all athletic activities on March 12, then canceled all spring seasons on March 17.
The SEC’s June 8 date for reopening campus activities will begin “a transition period” that would allow athletes to “gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after the recent period of inactivity,” the league said in its Friday statement.
It’s likely that small groups of athletes will return to campus in staggered fashion to assure an orderly process.
All voluntary activities will be supervised by school strength and conditioning personnel. It will be at least July 1 before coaches will be permitted by the NCAA to supervise athlete workouts.
The SEC said its schools will use a three-stage screening process that will begin before athletes return to campus. Once on campus, any athletes displaying COVID-19 symptoms will be immediately isolated.