Pac-12 student-athletes will be able to participate in voluntary on-campus workouts beginning June 15, the conference announced Tuesday afternoon.
This puts the Pac-12 conference only slightly behind others–SEC schools are allowed back on June 8, and the NCAA announced schools could begin voluntary on-campus work beginning June 1–but is a major decision in allowing conference schools to keep pace with national programs.
According to the Pac-12 statement:
“The Pac-12 decision was informed by a comprehensive set of best practice guidelines and protocols established by the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee. The Medical Advisory Committee includes a cross-section of the world’s leading infectious disease experts, physicians, researchers and trainers connected to Pac-12 universities.”
“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials.”
“The Pac-12 is committed to the well-being of our student-athletes, and the decision to allow for voluntary workouts, subject to a determination by each school, is guided by the advice of our medical experts and will be supported by the detailed protocols established by our medical advisory committee in concert with our campus’ own safety guidelines,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support.”
From this point, when each program is able to start those workouts–on June 15 or later–is subject to a decision by each individual university and likely will need to be made in accordance with local and state guidelines.
The statement also contained Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee guidelines and protocols, which includes sections on return to campus, return to athletic facility, facility specific considerations, return to exercise and response to infection or presumed infection.
In order to return to campus, players should be symptom free with no known Covid-19 contact for 14 days prior to return. If flying to campus, the school should consider isolation for seven days prior to a return to the athletic facility.
A return to the athletic facility is dependent on being fever and symptom free, laboratory testing, the set up of a contact tracing system and wearing face coverings at all times.
In the facility, the committee recommends increased distance and increased cleaning in the weight room, considering having players shower at home, limiting the number of students in the training room, only serving pre-packaged foods in the facility and all meals provided “to go.”
In the response to infection section, the committee recommends at least 10 days between returning to activity from the onset of symptoms, or two negative PCR tests taken more than 24 hours apart, as well as a lack of symptoms.
If there is a high risk contact of a Covid-19 positive or suspected infection, the recommendation is to quarantine at home for five days from exposure with testing, or 14 days with no testing.