Another step towards the beginning of the college football season has been taken — and once again it was in the right direction.
The NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee is moving forward with plans that could have players around the country taking the practice field in mid-July.
So while football athletes all around the country are returning to their respective campuses on Monday to resume training, actual fall camps appear to be on track for starting in mid-July — thus giving teams the necessary 6-week camp to prepare for the season.
“Incredible job by our administration, primarily Mark Harlan, our AD, getting the procedures and protocols in place,” Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Our medical staff here is obviously the driving force, making sure we’re doing things the right way. There’s no stone left unturned. They really did lay it all out, but that’s not to say something unforeseen can’t happen, but I think it’s first of all, great to be able to get our guys back on campus in phases. It’s been a great job by the administration outlining this plan and outlining the return to campus. Hopefully, it all goes smoothly.”
However, there has been a massive spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the country. As many as 14 states have just posted their seven day average high for the entire pandemic this past week. And that includes the three most populous states: Florida, California, Texas, places, obviously, that play a lot of football
With that being said, people are wondering if that outlook is still too optimistic for a mid-July return date.
Utah is much like the other states in the nation, with a rise of positive cases over the past two weeks since the state really began waking up.
“We look forward to reopening our athletics facilities in accordance with the highest standards for health and safety advised by medical experts and in adherence with all state, local and campus guidelines," the University of Utah said in a statement. "A dedicated working group has been working closely with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee to finalize a comprehensive plan for how we will manage the return of student-athletes into our facilities and ensure the safest possible experience for them. Details of the plan, and a specific timeline, will be announced later this week.”
Utah officials have laid out specific dates as too when certain athletes can return to campus. The reason being, they're hoping to avoid a mass gathering of everyone at once to promote social distancing still.
The schedule is...
- In-state student athletes can return June 15th.
- Out of state student athletes can return June 22nd.
- All new student athletes can join the program June 28th.
- Re-evaluation on June 29th
Utah also has a very detailed outline regarding what happens should a player begin to feel ill at any point in time...
- Evaluation done over the phone with a physician
- Medication given — but if symptoms of COVID-10 are present, student athlete will be sent for testing and must self-isolate
- Anyone who has had high-risk exposure must self-isolate until test results are announced
- For those with high risk exposures, they must quarantine at home for 14 days — OR — they must quarantine at home with tests on the third and fifth day, and if both tests are negative, they can resume team training.
According to SI's Pat Forde, it's still too early to tell if the recent higher number of positive cases will have a major impact on the upcoming season.
"This may or may not impact where college football goes, but it's certainly something university presidents will be keeping an eye on; and also athletic directors as well - because if there's going to be a spike in cases, will there be a corresponding spike in hospitalizations and serious consequences," Forde said. "Those are the stakes that they'll be looking at here as plans continue to firm up to get football actually being played on campus. So a lot of moving parts still. It's early June, check back in early July when we have a better idea where we stand on the football calendar."