sportsTexas Longhorns

Big 12, SEC approve reopening campuses for athletes in June

Both conferences will allow voluntary workouts.

Athletes in the Big 12 and the SEC can return to campus for voluntary workouts next month.

Big 12 presidents and chancellors on Friday approved the return of football players to campus for voluntary conditioning and workouts June 15. Athletic directors were notified Friday afternoon by Commissioner Bob Bowlsby about the decision, ahead of virtual spring meetings next week.

Big 12 schools will have to abide by local and state protocols, and best health practices relating to COVID-19. The remaining fall sport athletes can return July 1 with athletes in winter and spring sports having a July 15 target day, under the phase-in action.

“We remain optimistic and are continuing to plan for football this season, and this is another positive step towards preparing for that,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said. “We were able to get some of our football coaches and staff in the offices this week, and all went well with the health and safety measures we put into place for that. We’ve also been working on plans, procedures and health and safety measures in order to get student-athletes on campus.”

Earlier in the week, Bowlsby had targeted mid-June as one of three possibilities for a football return. Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley had cautioned against a June 1 return as being too soon.

In an interview with SiriusXM’s Big 12 Radio before the decision was made, Bowlsby suggested mid-June would be “a happy medium” and that football players would have to return by July 15 to have the possibility of a full season.

“These kids haven’t been training at the level they would have been if they’d been on campus,” Bowlsby said.

Earlier Friday, SEC presidents voted to allow “voluntary in-person athletics activities” on campus beginning June 8.

The NCAA opened the door earlier this week by allowing workouts in football and men’s and women’s basketball.

Because of COVID-19, the SEC, the Big 12 and other conferences had suspended athletic activity through May 31. The SEC indicated that June 8 will begin a transition period that will allow players to ease back to full training after months of enforced layoff. The decision seems like a compromise from those seeking a June 1 opening and those who wanted a later date.

All activities will be made within guidelines established by an SEC medical panel but overseen by individual schools.

In a statement, Commissioner Greg Sankey stressed safety first but also indicated the conference is planning on a fall sports season, including football.

“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,” Sankey said.

Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork called health and safety concerns the top priority and said the school has gathered input from local health officials in preparation for a return.

“We are ready for this moment and I want to thank our Health & Performance working group for putting together such a great plan,” Bjork said in a statement.

Find more college sports stories from The Dallas Morning News here.

Chuck Carlton, College sports writer. Covering college sports for the Morning News for more than a decade plus a whole lot of other stuff in past lives. Much like the Big 12, I've improbably survived two bouts of realignment.

ccarlton@dallasnews.com @ChuckCarltonDMN
Hooked on 'Horns

Be the smartest Longhorn fan

News, analysis and opinion about the Texas Longhorns delivered FREE to your inbox.

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy