STARKVILLE • Mississippi State University took a large step towards starting football season on Monday.
MSU hosted its first voluntary conditioning workouts Monday morning. The student athletes were split into groups, one at 8 a.m. and another at 9:15 a.m., to work out in the Palmeiro Center on campus. Freshmen players and newcomers were scheduled to workout at a later time.
At one of the entrances of the Palmeiro Center sat a table with hand sanitizer on it, and players inside were following social distancing rules while stretching. A few players walking in had on face masks.
“First day of voluntary workouts! Let’s go! #HailState,” Senior Associate Athletic Director for MSU football Dave Emerick tweeted out Monday morning.
It was the first day student athletes have been able to work out on campus since March 12 – when COVID-19 shut down college sports nationwide. A little over two months after that date, the NCAA voted to allow re-open facilities on June 8.
Two days later, on Friday, May 22, the SEC presidents approved the same vote.
Some conferences, like the Big 10, passed that decision to individual schools. Ohio State opened up voluntary practices today, while Michigan State is slated to begin working out on June 15.
Many schools, along with Mississippi State and Ole Miss, have spent the last week testing athletes for COVID-19 and other things and educating them on how to function in facilities reconfigured for social distancing.
Education at MSU was a weeklong process, Mary McLendon, the senior associate AD for sports medicine and performance, said last week in an interview with the Daily Journal.
Ole Miss had two student athletes test positive for COVID-19, and have begun isolating. Mississippi State did not release any results from its tests. At least five football players tested positive at the University of Alabama, while Auburn had three players test positive.
Formal plans to begin the regular season have not been announced yet.
Mississippi State is scheduled to begin its season with new head coach Mike Leach on Sept. 5 against New Mexico at home. The Bulldogs finished the 2019 season with a 6-7 record and reached the Music City Bowl.