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SMU slows down return-to-play plan, won’t start ‘Phase II’ as scheduled, based on advice from doctors

Phase I and Phase II were each supposed to last two weeks.

SMU student-athletes had been scheduled to begin “Phase II” of the return to sports plan on Monday — a ramp up of activities allowed by the athletic department.

A school spokesperson told The Dallas Morning News on Monday afternoon that the school will postpone advancing to Phase II, and instead remain in Phase I.

“Like we said when we rolled the plan out, the plan remains fluid and guided by national, state and local health officials,” the spokesperson said. “Based on the advice of our medical professionals and what’s happening in the Dallas area, we’re extending it for now.”

Phase II would have allowed for student-athletes to be together in groups as large as 50 people, and allow for the use of shared equipment. Social distancing and equipment cleaning would still be required.

Dallas County reported another record day of positive COVID-19 cases on Monday with 572 positives. County Judge Clay Jenkins wrote a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday requesting an additional “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.

In Phase I, students are allowed to be in groups as large as 10. Equipment sharing is prohibited, and mask-wearing is required when not working out. Weight room access was allowed after seven days.

It is unclear how long the delay in advancement will last, or if it will impact the timeline on starting football training camp in about a month.

SMU did not say if it had any additional student-athletes test positive. It declined to say how many of the 75 student-athletes that returned were in quarantine as a result of the school’s contact tracing program. It also declined to say if any of the athletes that initially tested positive had been cleared to return.

SMU will continue with plans to bring back its next wave of student-athletes on July 6.

Sam Blum, Staff Writer. Sam covers SMU athletics and the Texas Rangers for The Dallas Morning News, and previously covered Auburn University athletics for AL.com. He's also covered University of Virginia athletics for The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. He graduated from Syracuse University.

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