Optimism Growing As SEC Set to Vote Friday on Summer Workouts Return

Greg Arias

The Southeastern Conference is set to vote today on whether to allow student-athletes to commence voluntary workouts on June 1 or to push the start date back to June 15. 

According to a report from Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, "decision-makers are exploring a preseason practice proposal that includes NFL-style OTAs and a four-week camp that would be required before schools can begin their season." 

 Regardless of the vote, the conference will have a date set for athletes to return and for activities to begin. It's a positive sign in a time where many things remain negative. 

"While this approach may put some early-season games in jeopardy—state orders could prevent some schools from starting practice by early August—officials believe it is necessary for the health and safety of athletes. Though still in the early stages of consideration, the plan is another sign that leaders are moving college football further along the path to an on-time kickoff. In the most optimistic week since the coronavirus pandemic shut down college athletics, officials continue to make strides toward a Labor Day start. “If you’d a told me a month ago that we would start voluntary workouts in June, I wouldn’t have believed you,” says West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, one of the most prominent figures at the center of football’s return." 

"Friday marks the 70th day of the shutdown, and while the first 60 painted a somewhat dire portrait of college football’s immediate existence, the last 10 have generated significant positive steps. Still, the trend could turn negative quickly if virus cases spike in response to what has become a multi-staged nationwide reopening. “If these states start reopening and we have an uptick, states may go back to quarantining,” Lyons says in an interview Thursday with Sports Illustrated. “What we’ve learned through this: be adaptable to change and be fluid.”

While the SEC is arguably the most influential conference in the nation, others such as the Big-12 and their commissioner Bob Bowlsby have shared their thoughts on the situation in recent days. 

According to Dellenger's article, Bowlsby shared this. 

"The recent optimism brewing about an on-time start is mostly connected to the expected increase in widespread and sophisticated testing. On calls with the White House, Bowlsby says officials have told him that testing nationally will double every month from now on. The Big 12 commissioner estimates that players and staff will need to be tested every two to three days during the season. “The question a month ago was, ‘Are we going to have enough tests?’” Lyons says. “Now we’re getting info that there’s a (quick) strep throat-like test. There are more and more answers as we go. But these are still times of uncertainty. Still questions out there about fan attendance.”

"“We are going to play football in the fall,” the 76-year-old said in a recent radio interview. “I really do believe that. Even if I have to suit up.”

Bowlsby won't be alone in suiting up if need be, as I'm guessing others would love the opportunity as well. 

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