The University of Louisiana will open its athletic facilities for workouts beginning June 8th.
The decision falls in line with the NCAA's vote Wednesday permitting schools to open their facilities to basketball and football players for voluntary workouts starting June 1st. UL's June 8th date comes as the state plans to enter phase two of reopening on June 5th.
Athletic Director Dr. Bryan Maggard said Thursday that each player will be routinely monitored for COVID-19 symptoms. Only symptomatic players will be tested as of now, although Dr. Maggard said that detail could change. As schools ramp up protections for student athletes returning to campus, Dr. Maggard said he is confident that the university has established a safe plan and environment for returning athletes, but does worry about what happens when students leave the facilities.
"I'm probably most comfortable about the protocols we will have in place to keep our environment safe," he said. "What concerns me is what happens when students leave our grounds. If we don't practice good social distancing that's when the risk abounds."
The NCAA's approval for voluntary workouts last through June 30th. Player are not permitted contact with "on field coaches," only the strength staff. Dr. Maggard believes coordinated activities with coaches could start as soon as July 1. He expects the NCAA to vote again this week to set a date for CARA workouts, or countable athletically related activities.
"The question will be, 'What does it look like?' Will it be an extended CARA because we're closer to the season and coaches have had less time to spend with student-athletes?" he said. "So it could be a structure where the first part of July it's eight hours per week, and the end of July is 20 hours a week, which is what the season would normally look like."
The voluntary period of workouts is viewed as an equity measure for schools who cannot open their campuses yet. Wednesday I discussed the general equity problem facing college football as schools still must defer to state guidelines first. Still, allowing students back on campus for any workouts is a good first step to playing college football this fall.
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