BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Voluntary in-person athletics activities may resume on Southeastern Conference campuses at the discretion of each university, beginning June 8 under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution, the SEC announced Friday.
"Based on the decision today by the Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors, the University of South Carolina will be ready to host football student-athletes on campus for voluntary workouts on June 8," athletic director Ray Tanner said. "They will be on campus several days before to get tested for the COVID-19 virus. We are excited to have our student-athletes back on campus. Their health, safety and well-being are our number one priority. Our staff and medical team have developed a thorough set of protocols that exceed CDC guidelines and will help our student-athletes through the transition back to campus."
"I am pleased that we will bring our student-athletes back to campus on June 8 for conditioning and I have confidence in our Department of Athletics to follow public health protocols to mitigate risk to our athletes, coaches and training staff," UofSC President Bob Caslen said. "This is another step toward the phased reopening of our campus and another sign that we are ready to get back to the business of educating our next generation of leaders."
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the SEC had suspended all athletics activities through May 31. June 8 will begin a transition period that will allow student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after this recent period of inactivity. Under plans developed by each university and consistent with state and local health directives, certain activities will be permitted based on the ability to participate in controlled and safe environments, while also maintaining recommended social distancing measures.
The decision to resume athletics activities, which at this time is limited by the NCAA to voluntary activities supervised by strength and conditioning personnel, was made with the guidance of the Conference's Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.
Created by the SEC's Presidents and Chancellors in April and comprised of a cross-section of leading public health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from across the SEC's 14 member institutions, the task force will remain active to provide continued advice and guidance to the SEC and its members as they prepare for a return to competition.
"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," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.
"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."
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 men's & women's basketball. A current waiver that permits eight hours of virtual film review has been extended through June 30 for football and basketball.
Consistent with NCAA regulations, organized practices and other required physical activities remain prohibited in all sports. A previously announced suspension of in-person camps and coaches clinics conducted by SEC institutions remains in effect until July 31.