SALT LAKE CITY — Pac-12 coaches and athletes should circle June 15 on their calendars.
In a positive step that puts the return of collegiate athletics one step closer to coming off the sidelines after the coronavirus pandemic, the Pac-12 CEO Group voted to allow for voluntary, in-person workouts for all sports to begin on June 15. That ruling, made Tuesday afternoon, is subject to the decision of each school in conjunction with adherence of relevant governmental entities, according to a statement released by the conference.
The University of Utah Athletics Department released a statement about the decision Tuesday evening:
“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.”
Last week, the NCAA announced it will permit some voluntary athletic-related activities to commence on June 1.
“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff,” Pac-12 CEO Group Chairman and University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano said through the statement. “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.”
The Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee, comprised of a cross-section of infectious disease experts, researchers and trainers connected to conference universities, provided a comprehensive set of best practice guidelines and protocols that must be followed as athletes return to campuses.
“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,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the statement. “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.”
The medical guidelines and protocols, which are updated based on best current medical data, include testing, contact tracing, monitoring, social distancing, hygiene measures, food service, quarantine and education, among others. Per the statement, each university will develop a health and safety plan consistent with the committee’s recommendations along with relevant state and local public health guidance.