Utah football fans need something to look forward too after the way the 2019 season ended with blowout losses to Oregon (Pac-12 Championship game) and Texas (Alamo Bowl).
The only thing that would help take away the stings of those losses would be a blowout victory over hated-rival BYU in the 2020 season opener. But with the COVID-19 pandemic threatening the sports world, nobody knew if that season, and opportunity, was going to come.
We are now officially one step closer to making it a reality when, on Tuesday, May 26, the Pac-12 announced that it would be allowing voluntary in-person athletic workouts, set to begin on June 15.
“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials.”
It is now up to each college and its relevant governmental entities to decide when/if athletes and coaches will be allowed to train again. The decision to update the Pac-12's pandemic policy was made during a meeting of the conference CEO Group on Tuesday. It also comes on the heels of the NCAA's decision last week to allow conferences and schools to reopen for on-campus voluntary athletically related activities in all sports from June 1.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott also released the following statement following the decision...
“The Pac-12 is committed to the well-being of our student-athletes, and the decision to allow for voluntary workouts, subject to a determination by each school, is guided by the advice of our medical experts and will be supported by the detailed protocols established by our medical advisory committee in concert with our campus’ own safety guidelines,” said Scott. “As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support.”
In all, this is huge news if collegiate sports are to be played this fall.
A few weeks back, Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham was hoping to have his players back on campus in June for training, and it appears that will be happening now. With the University expected to be hosting on-campus classes this fall, this is another step in the right direction for the return of college sports.
The University also released the following statement, supporting the Pac-12's decision...
“University of Utah Athletics is in support of today’s decision by the Pac-12 Conference to allow for voluntary in-person workouts to resume in all sports beginning June 15. 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. 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.”