College football has been one of the NCAA’s top concerns as not only is it one of the most popular aspects of the collegiate sports industry, but many universities center their yearly schedules upon college football. COVID-19 has been a difficult issue to tackle for many leagues as it is a new and sensitive issue that could affect all individuals.
The NCAA College Football Oversight Committee is planning on submitting a four-phase plan to actively begin football activities by mid-July. This is in hopes of returning to play on time while prioritizing the health of athletes and staff.
They will recommend that coaches begin interaction with players as of July 13, and for training camps to start on Aug. 7. There are only a handful of teams competing in the opening weekend of the season, with their dates being pushed up a week.
There are many decisions still being made as conferences have the autonomy to decide on safety and preventative measures. Coronavirus testing and coaches needing to wear masks on the sidelines are the two biggest topics of discussion to date.
Shane Lyons, the oversight committee chair, is confident in the plan they hope to get approved next week.
Since voluntary and virtual non-physical activities have begun as of June 1, there have already been several college football players who have tested positive for COVID-19 during re-entry.
Although these announcements have caused concern, they have also proven the success of screening procedures that universities are taking to ensure their students’ security. Within the next few weeks, athletic directors hope to take what they have learned to best prepare for the coming season.
What About the Details?
As of now, the NCAA continues to recommend for team workouts to begin by July 13, which includes weight training, conditioning, and film review for up to eight hours per week. After July 24, programs will be allowed to have 20 hours per week with their players divided between six hours of walkthroughs, six hours of meetings, and eight hours of strength and conditioning work.
From Aug. 7 and onward, preseason practice is set to take place. Although the NCAA is under pressure to start the college football season on time, two-a-days were not considered although recently being deemed unharmful by NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline.
The plan also requires teams to practice before playing their first game for four weeks. If unable to participate or host practices this far in advance, FBS commissioners have already said they acknowledge that the 10 conferences may not be on the same page throughout this unique season.
The NCAA has still not addressed how they plan to handle fans in the stands. Lyons is also West Virginia’s athletic director, and he claims he is uncertain as to how he will be able to fill West Virginia’s Milan Puskar Stadium with a 60,000-person capacity.
Lyons is aware that even if restrictions are lifted by the time the season begins, it is unlikely the usual number of fans will attend. He claims that even if the NCAA decided to be lenient in attendance restriction measures, he does not believe many people would be interested in watching the game live in-person.
Universities were allowed to host athletics beginning on June 1, and many athletic programs expect to begin voluntary workouts by June 15. Universities around the country have established different safety and preventative measures, which could account for possible game cancellations or lack of games in the spring.
Ultimately, the NCAA hopes to establish a clear set of guidelines for college football to begin as planned.
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