UPDATE: SEC Votes to Resume Voluntary In-Person Athletics Activities, Big 12 Follows Suit

Zach Lancaster

It was a big day for college athletics as the SEC has voted to resume voluntary in-person athletics activities beginning June 8.

It's a move that everyone expected to happen, which many believe will have most of the other Power Five conferences following suit. The Big 12 is expected to vote on the issue Friday afternoon.

Due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, every college athletics program and conference suspended all in-person activities such as games, practices, workouts and recruiting. 

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 SEC

Just like the other conferences, should they vote to resume voluntary student-athlete activities, will undergo a series of regulations in order to keep the student-athletes and the staffs safe.

The SEC created a task force back in April that's comprised of leading experts across several fields including public health, infectious diseases and sports medicine from each of the 14 SEC schools.

As a result of Friday's vote, the task force "prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining cleaned environments."

In addition to those safety measures, the SEC is implementing enhanced safety measures as well:

  • Enhanced education of all team members on health and wellness best practices, including but not limited to preventing the spread of COVID-19
  • A 3-stage screening process that involves screening before student-athletes arrive on campus, withing 72 hours of entering athletics facilities and on a daily basis upon resumption of athletics activities
  • Testing of symptomatic team members (including all student-athletes, coaches, team support and other appropriate individuals)
  • Immediate isolation of team members who are under investigation or diagnosed with COVID-19 followed by contact tracing, following CDC and local public health guidelines
  • A transition period that allows student-athletes to gradually adapt to full training and sport activity following a period of inactivity

Those are important guidelines to pay attention of as every school across the country that will allow its student-athletes back on campus will have to follow, if not even more stringent.

Pokes Report publisher Robert Allen spoke with Oklahoma State assistant athletic director for athletic performance Rob Glass on Thursday and there are several hurdles in making sure the student-athletes are safe.

"The big thing that is going to happen for us, and fluid seems to be the word, is the protocols in coming back to use our facilities everyday is a little bit of a new twist depending on who is involved," Glass started to explain. "There is going to be a lot to that and Doc Iven (team doctor Dr. Val Gene Iven) and what is plan is that he has put together as far as re-entry into campus. Then also for us it's about understanding that even though we're excited about the kids and what we've seen them doing on social media, their conditioning and there is a medical side that is a little over my head. The virus and maybe you didn't have a very difficult time with it that it could compromise your respiratory system, so we have a lot of things we have to work through."

While there haven't been any confirmed COVID-19 cases among Oklahoma State student-athletes, it's possible that the testing that will be conducted might reveal some players had it without ever knowing it.

"We're going to have to ramp these kids up pretty slow to identify potential outliers and that's okay," Glass confirmed. "Normally we don't start out summer cycle with the NCAA and the rules they have in place until June 8. We're going to fall in line with what we had planned to the most part. We'll just be a little slower integrating into our training procedures and the intensity that we do them at. We'll have to go a little slower with guys just because they've been gone for three months."

As mentioned above, the Big 12 is set to vote Friday afternoon on the measure of allowing student-athletes back on campus.