The University of Oklahoma announced today that it will re-open its facilities for voluntary football workouts on July 1.
OU Vice President and Director of Athletics said the decision positions OU to meet its goals while being fully prepared.
"As we have planned for the re-opening of our facilities, the health of our student-athletes and staff has been our top priority," he said. "It is the principal that has guided every step of our meticulous process. At OU, we are fortunate to have one of the most respected teams of doctors and athletic trainers in the country. We have looked to them for direction in our preparation and protocols. They will continue to play an important role in the weeks leading up to our opening and beyond.
"We believe in our approach and are convinced that it best positions our student-athletes and staff for long-term success. It is with great excitement that we look forward to their return in preparation for the upcoming sports seasons."
Upon return to Norman, OU's student-athletes will be evaluated for clearance by the OU medical staff. Student-athletes will be continuously monitored and will be expected to adhere to a number of safety protocols and guidelines.
"As I have stated before, we are going to approach this return with extreme care," said OU Head Football Coach . "We have received tremendous guidance from highly respected medical professionals, and we will follow their recommendations. We understand that the well-being of our student-athletes is at the top of our responsibilities. That's why we will be diligent in how we manage everything from the way we relate to each other to the cleaning of our facilities and beyond.
"Our medical personnel have told us that the safest thing we can do is keep our players off campus for as long as possible. We chose the latest point that we could bring them back and still have enough time to prepare."
OU Athletics' medicine staff coordinates OU Health Sciences Center, Norman campus student health, independent in-state and out-of-state infectious disease and public health specialists in the consideration of recommendation of return of athletes to campus.
Staff and student-athletes will receive extensive, advanced and ongoing education regarding facility usage and best practices for personal interaction. The athletics department also is implementing heightened cleaning and stringent safety policies for conduct.
OU Head Athletic Trainer Scott Anderson said the planning has been all-encompassing.
"We have been planning for this in some form since we left campus March 13," Anderson said. "We are fortunate to have a number of outstanding physicians working with us on a regular basis, and we also have the guidance of the OU Health Sciences Center. Our priority is precaution while making preparations in what are very fluid circumstances."
In this plan, other student-athletes will return later this summer in a phased approach.
"The best approach is to bring the student-athletes back in phases so that we can adequately prepare for them and offer the best possible care," Castiglione said. "We want to make sure that our staff can focus on each returning group appropriately and thoroughly."
In this first step, the vast majority of athletics department staff will continue to telecommute. No other tentative dates for return have been set.
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