Greg Sankey

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey suspended all of the league’s sports activities on March 12, with a complete shutdown following five days later. Athletes can begin to return to campus as early as June 8.

SEC athletes can soon get back to work on campus.

University presidents voted on Friday that “voluntary in-person athletics activities” may resume on Southeastern Conference campuses, where permitted, beginning on Monday, June 8.

Those activities will be “under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution,” the SEC said in a statement early Friday afternoon.

On ESPN, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the timeline for athletes and staff to return “may vary from campus to campus.”

As the pandemic spread in mid-March, the conference had suspended all athletic activities. All sports for the remainder of the school year were called off on March 17.

The June 8 date begins “a transition period” that will allow athletes to “gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after the recent period of inactivity,” the statement said.

It’s expected that only a limited number of athletes will be able to quickly make a return to campus. LSU and Florida both said they plan a “phased return” of players, a policy other schools are likely to follow.

During the month of June, NCAA regulations permit only strength and conditioning personnel to supervise voluntary on-campus athletics activities in the sports of football and basketball.

Soon after the SEC’s announcement, several league schools said they would begin conditioning efforts in June for other sports, including volleyball and soccer.

“The safe and healthy return of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and our greater university communities have been and will continue to serve as our guiding principle as we navigate this complex and constantly evolving situation,” Sankey said in a statement. “At this time, we are preparing to begin the fall sports season as currently scheduled, and this limited resumption of voluntary athletic activities on June 8 is an important initial step in that process.”

The league said its 14 member 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.

A previously announced suspension of in-person camps and coaches clinics conducted by SEC institutions will remain in effect until July 31.

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