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Utah AD Mark Harlan pleased with the progress being made to bring college sports back

Wednesday’s NCAA announcement is viewed as an important step.

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Mark Harlan, the new athletic director at the University of Utah, talks during an interview at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 29, 2018.

James Wooldridge, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah athletics director Mark Harlan said he is pleased with the progress announced by the NCAA on Wednesday. There’s more light at the end of the tunnel regarding the return of sports in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The path is now understood for what an on-time start to the football season will look like and some definition around summer access for football and men’s and women’s basketball,” Harlan said. “This is an important step and an exciting development for our student-athletes and coaches. We have our first group beginning voluntary workouts this week, with more on track to join them the next two weeks in Phase I. 

“It’s a positive step and we will continue to work diligently to provide the safest environment possible for our student-athletes,” he added.

The Utes, who were cleared to begin voluntary workouts on Monday, are scheduled to open the football season Thursday, Sept. 3 at Rice-Eccles Stadium against BYU. As such, they’ll be allowed to begin up to eight hours of conditioning, film review and weight training from July 11 to July 21. 

Beginning July 22 through Aug. 4, Utah can conduct up to 20 hours per week and no more than four hours per day of “countable athletically related activities.” The list includes a maximum of eight hours for conditioning and weight training, a maximum of six hours for walk-throughs with use of a football and a maximum of six hours for meetings (film review, one-on-one, position and/or team gatherings). 

Players are requited to get at least two days off during the 14-day stretch. No adjustments were made to the 29-day preseason practice period that follows.   

In other action, the NCAA council also approved a summer plan for men’s and women’s basketball — opting to extend voluntary workouts and up to eight hours of virtual nonphysical activities through July 19. Required summer activities may get started the next day.