Add USC to the burgeoning list of Power Five football programs returning.
Last month, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1. The SEC subsequently confirmed its players would be permitted to start returning June 8. Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois and Penn State from the Big Ten did the same on the same date. And, as far as that goes, so did Clemson, Louisville and Pitt. Another ACC school, Miami, kicked its off June 15; a Big Ten school, Michigan, began that same day. Nebraska, meanwhile, started June 1.
Last week, Pac-12 schools began their respective returns to campus. Except for, at least initially, those Power Fives in California. UCLA, though, confirmed Wednesday that it will begin its phased return June 22. Stanford subsequently announced a very layered and nuanced return. Tuesday night, USC revealed that it will begin a phased return of student-athletes, including football players, on Wednesday, June 23. The only USC football players permitted to return at this time are those who live within a one-hour commute of the campus.
Once that Phase 1 is successfully navigated, veteran USC football players outside of that one-hour commute will be permitted to start returning. Once Phase 2 is complete, new USC football players will be allowed to return.
According to the school, the target goal for starting Phase 3 is July 13.
As expected, there will be guidelines to follow:
All student-athletes will be required to complete a pre-participation checklist. USC’s athletic medicine staff will make the final determination on a student-athlete’s clearance to participate in voluntary workouts.
As part of the pre-participation process, all student-athletes must participate in a COVID-19 health and safety protocol information session, complete the university’s TrojanLearn training module, sign a risk and shared responsibility acknowledgement form, pass their annual pre-participation physical, and undergo COVID-19 testing.
Following their initial COVID-19 test, student-athletes will be tested weekly.
“We approached this process with extreme patience, prudence, and the utmost regard for the health and safety of our student-athletes, taking time to learn from the experiences of our peers to refine our plans and processes. We worked diligently to develop a comprehensive plan that enables our student-athletes to voluntarily return to USC to participate in workouts should they choose to do so,” said USC athletic director Mike Bohn in a statement. “After a devastating few months, we are thrilled for them that they will be able to come back to campus to do what they love and continue their preparation for their upcoming seasons. With this return, we will continue to follow and adapt to all federal, state, county and university regulations, as well as recommendations from the NCAA, Pac-12 and USC Athletics’ medical director.
“We understand that for various reasons some student-athletes may choose not to participate in voluntary workouts. We are fully supportive of the choices made by our student-athletes and their families.”