With each passing day, it’s looking more and more likely there’ll be a college football season. At least, there will be one in some form or fashion.
Wednesday, the NCAA confirmed that some sports will be permitted to resume voluntary on-campus activities beginning June 1. Included in that limited group (for now) are college football players. Men’s and women’s basketball are permitted a limited resumption as well.
The NCAA made sure to stress that the on-campus activities are voluntary.Voluntary on-campus athletics activity must be initiated by the student-athlete. Coaches may not be present unless a sport-specific safety exception allows it, and activity cannot be directed by a coach or reported back to a coach.
“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” said Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”
With the NCAA’s announcement, it will be up to each individual conference — and each individual institution — to reopen the doors for college football players to return to campus. In accordance with local and state guidelines, obviously.
It’s already been confirmed that the SEC will vote this Friday on whether to bring student-athletes, including college football players, back to campus June 1 or June 15. Of the 14 athletic directors in the conference, just one, Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer, is not in favor of the June 1 date for a return. The Big Ten is also expected to allow players back to campus early this month, with schools such as Ohio State targeting June 8.
The Big 12, meanwhile, is eyeing a mid- to late-June return date for student-athletes. The Pac-12 will make a determination next week. The ACC is expected to do the same.
Exactly when these various conferences can start actual practices for the start of the 2020 college football remains to be seen.
In addition to the resumption of on-campus workouts, the NCAA also announced a handful of waivers have been granted. Those related to the highest level of football includes:
- Waiving the minimum football attendance requirement for Football Bowl Subdivision members for two years.
- Financial aid minimums for FBS schools were waived to permit an institution to award at least 75% of the maximum FBS financial aid limit for three years. In addition, institutions will be permitted to award a minimum of 150 athletics grants-in-aid or expend a minimum of $3 million on grants-in-aid to student-athletes for a period of three years. Gender equity requirements and rules governing nonrenewal/cancellation of aid remain in effect.
- FBS schools will not be required to play 60% of their games against FBS members or play five home games against FBS opponents.
The latter waiver is nearly as important as the resumption of on-campus workouts. The easing of those restrictions will allow athletic directors across the country the flexibility to get in a full slate of games — or as close to a full slate of games — as we continue to weave our way through the coronavirus pandemic.