CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A plan is in place for University of Illinois athletes to be returning to the campus for voluntary workouts beginning in June.
The Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Friday morning they have their facilities is set to reopen its facilities for student-athletes for voluntary summer training as soon as June 3. This reopening plan will the first sign of athletes returning to Champaign-Urbana campus since the spring season/semester shutdown due to the COVID-19 world health epidemic. The plan, which university officials are saying in his consultation with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Carle physicians, the McKinley Health Center, SHIELD (the university’s committee tasked with developing coronavirus testing protocols) for the U of I campus and the Big Ten Conference.
Football and men's basketball student-athletes are scheduled to return to campus first in small groups in early June according to a schedule that includes testing and initial periods of quarantine. The return protocol will include initial and ongoing viral and antibody testing, initial quarantining, contact tracing and arrangements for extended quarantine in the case of a positive COVID-19 test.
The first football and men's basketball workouts, which university athletics officials stated multiple times during the release will be voluntary, are likely to begin the second or third week of June. The current schedule projects for the return of non-revenue fall sports and women’s basketball student-athletes by early July. Further evaluation during the summer will determine if/when student-athletes from other Illini roster can and will return to campus.
Josh Whitman, the Illinois Director of Athletics, is scheduled to discuss this gradual reopening plan for the Illini athletics during a Friday afternoon Zoom video media conference.
According to the university release, the decision of whether to participate in the voluntary workouts will be with the athletes themselves and the release says athletics officials will honor all financial aid and scholarship commitments, now and in the future, should a student-athlete decide not to participate because of concerns to COVID-19. Subsequently, athletics officials are being required to also provide information for third-party resources should student-athletes feel pressure to participate in the voluntary workouts by coaching staffs or Illinois athletics personnel.